Taxotere Lawsuit Court Overseeing Federal Hair Loss Claims Issues New Orders Addressing Discovery, Bellwether Trials

Published on May 30, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

Taxotere lawsuits filed on behalf of breast cancer patients and others who allegedly experienced permanent hair loss following treatment with the chemotherapy medication continue to move forward in the multidistrict litigation underway in the U.S. District Court, Easter District of Louisiana. Court records indicate that three new orders were recently issued in the proceeding to address certain discovery issues, as well as plans for the litigation’s first bellwether trials.

Taxotere Case Management Orders

According to a Case Management Order dated May 18th, the Court has established several deadlines pertaining to Personal Jurisdiction Discovery:

  • May 26, 2017: Plaintiffs were to serve personal jurisdictional discovery relevant to Sanofi’s and Aventis Pharma S.A.’s Motion to Dismiss following an initial meet and confer with the Sanofi Defendants scheduled for May 17, 2017.
  • June 2, 2017: The parties will meet and confer again regarding any served personal jurisdictional discovery.
  • June 30, 2017: The Sanofi Defendants are to provide responses and objections to any served personal jurisdiction discovery.

The Order also notes that the Magistrate Judge assigned to the Taxotere litigation intends to schedule a hearing to resolve any differences pertaining to jurisdictional discovery.

A second Case Management Order dated May 23rd addressed discovery on French Sanofi entities and stipulated that any foreign merits discovery relating to these entities was to be served on Friday, May 26, 2017, in conjunction with the personal jurisdiction discovery. The Court further directed Defendants to submit any objections to such foreign merits discovery by Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Pretrial Order Addresses First Taxotere Trials

A Pretrial Order issued by the Court on May 15th directed the parties to submit a proposed order discussing a discovery schedule and dates for bellwether trials by May 26th.

Bellwether trials are a routine facet of large, consolidated proceedings. Bellwether trials generally involve lawsuits representative of other cases pending in the litigation, and are intended to gauge the strength of plaintiffs’ claims. Verdicts in bellwether trials often provide insight into how juries might rule in other lawsuits involving similar questions of facts.

Taxotere Allegations

Court documents indicate that more than 1,000 permanent hair loss cases involving Taxotere and generic versions of docetaxel are now undergoing coordinated pretrial proceedings in the Eastern District of Louisiana. While hair loss commonly occurs during chemotherapy, pla­intiffs pursuing these claims charge that alopecia associated with Taxotere is far more likely to be permanent compared with other, equally effective medications.

Taxotere was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 1996, though mention of permanent hair loss as a possible side effect was not included on the drug’s U.S. labeling until December 2015.  Taxotere lawsuit plaintiffs claim that the possibility of permanent alopecia was communicated to regulators and patients in Europe as early as 2005, while the Canadian label underwent a similar modification in 2012. Meanwhile, the U.S. prescribing information only included a vaguely worded and insufficient statement that “hair generally grows back.”

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