Hundreds of lawsuits involving the cancer drug Taxotere and its alleged propensity to cause permanent hair loss are moving forward in the federal litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. According to an Order dated April 27th, the Court recently met with the parties’ Liaison Counsel to address several issues, including the parameters for the litigation’s upcoming “Science Day”.
Science Days provide parties in large, complex litigations an opportunity to apprise the court of the medical and scientific issues central to their cases. Presentations during these events are generally off-the-record and non-adversarial in nature. The Taxotere litigation is scheduled to convene Science Day tomorrow at 8:30 a.m., CST.
According to the April 27th Order, Taxotere lawsuit parties will each have 30 minutes to make their Science Day presentations. The event will be open to the public. However, Taxotere attorneys appointed to the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee are not required to attend.
Court records indicate that 949 Taxotere lawsuits are currently pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Many patients who undergo chemotherapy experience hair loss. However, these complaints charge that Taxotere-related alopecia is far more likely to be permanent compared to hair loss associated with other, equally effective chemotherapy agents.
Plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that Sanofi-Aventis was aware of research published in the 1990s that suggested 9.2% of Taxotere patients had experienced persistent alopecia for up to 10 years or longer. In 2006, a Denver Oncologist reported that a higher percentage of his Taxotere patients had suffered from hair loss for years after their cancer treatment concluded. Finally, they note that information regarding the potential for Taxotere to cause permanent alopecia was provided to doctors and patients in Europe as early as 2005, while the Canadian label underwent a similar modification in 2012. Yet the U.S. label only included a vaguely worded and insufficient statement that “hair generally grows back.”
Taxotere was brought to market by Sanofi-Aventis in 1996 to treat certain types of breast cancer. It’s approved uses have since been expanded to include several other cancers. However, the U.S. Taxotere label was only updated in December 2015 to note that cases of permanent alopecia had been reported among patients treated with the medication.