Taxotere Lawsuit Defendant Asks Court to Reject Class Action Certification for Hair Loss Case

Published on June 15, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

Sanofi-Aventis has asked the federal court overseeing hundreds of Taxotere lawsuits to reject class action certification for a complaint that seeks to represent all Louisiana women who allegedly experienced permanent alopecia due to the chemotherapy drug.

Sanofi-Aventis Accused of Breaching Duty to Consumers

The proposed class action is one of more than 1,000 Taxotere hair loss claims currently pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where all such federally-filed cases are currently undergoing coordinated pretrial proceedings. The lawsuit was filed in April under the Louisiana Product Liability Act, and accuses Sanofi-Aventis of breaching its duty to consumers by failing to warn that Taxotere could result in the permanent loss of hair. Plaintiffs asserted that a class action offered the best means of litigating claims due to the large number of Louisiana women allegedly harmed by the drug.

In a June 12th filing, however, Sanofi-Aventis maintained that there was not enough commonality among the claims to justify class action certifications, and asserted that they should be litigated as individual lawsuits.

“Innumerable individual inquiries regarding alleged defectiveness, causation, injury, and damages swamp common issues—to the extent any even exist in this case—which preclude findings of typicality, adequacy, predominance, and superiority,” the company’s filing states. “For all of the foregoing reasons, class certification is entirely inappropriate here. Plaintiffs’ motion should be denied.”

Taxotere and Hair Loss

Taxotere was brought to market by Sanofi-Aventis in 1996, initially as a treatment for breast cancer. Its approved indications have since been expanded to include several other malignancies.  While hair loss is not unusual with chemotherapy, Taxotere lawsuit plaintiffs charge that docetaxel-induced alopecia is far more likely to be permanent compared to hair loss associated with other, equally effective medications.

In December 2015, the U.S. Taxotere label was updated to note that permanent hair loss had been reported in patients treated with the drug.  However, plaintiffs pursuing hair loss claims against Sanofi-Aventis charge that the potential for Taxotere to cause permanent alopecia was reported 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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