A recent Taxotere lawsuit has accused the drug’s manufacturers of marketing a dangerous and defective product in violation of the Louisiana Products Liability Act. The complaint, which was filed June 1st in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, claims that Taxotere is far more likely to cause permanent hair loss compared to other, equally effective chemotherapy agents.
According to her lawsuit, Wanda Smith was administered several courses of Taxotere between February and May 2011 while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. As a direct and proximate result of this treatment, she has continued to suffer and will suffer in the future from disfiguring permanent alopecia.
“Despite issuing numerous other label changes and safety warnings, Defendants failed to disclose information that they possessed regarding their failure to adequately test and study Taxotere related to the side effect of disfiguring permanent alopecia,” Smith states in her complaint. “Plaintiff and her healthcare providers could not have discovered Defendants’ false representations and failures to disclose information through the exercise of reasonable diligence.”
Taxotere has been on the market since 1996. However, it was only in December 2015 that the drug’s U.S. labeling was modified to include mention of reports of permanent hair alopecia. While hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, Smith and other plaintiffs claim that Taxotere is more likely to result in permanent baldness compared to other breast cancer treatments. They also point out that the drug’s manufacturers have provided information regarding the potential for permanent alopecia to individual patients and regulatory agencies overseas. Yet the U.S. label only included a generic, vague, and insufficient warning that “hair generally grows back”
Smith’s complaint also notes that that in 2005, Taxotere’s manufacturers wee was aware of the GEICAM 9805 study, which demonstrated that 9.2% of patients treated with the drug experienced persistent alopecia lasting for up to 10 years and five months, and in some cases longer. In 2006, a Denver-based oncologist reported that disfiguring hair loss that persisted for years occurred over 6% of his Taxotere patients.
More than 50 similar Taxotere lawsuits involving permanent alopecia have been filed in various federal courts in recent months. On October 4th, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered that these cases, as wells as any federal claims filed in the future, be centralized before a single judge in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. The establishment of this multidistrict litigation will allow the federal Taxotere docket to undergo coordinated pretrial proceedings, thereby avoiding duplicative discovery and inconsistent rulings from various courts.