Plaintiffs who allegedly experienced permanent hair loss following chemotherapy with Taxotere continue to file claims in the federal multidistrict litigation now underway in Louisiana. Court records indicate that 1,116 Taxotere lawsuits were pending in the proceeding as of June 15th, representing an increase of about 100 filings since mid-May.
The centralized litigation was established in October 2016 to enable all federally-filed Taxotere hair loss claims to undergo coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings. Initially, just 33 cases were transferred to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. In December, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation affirmed that it had intended the proceeding to include lawsuits involving name-brand Taxotere, as well as those that cite generic versions of docetaxel.
The Court is scheduled to convene its regular monthly Status Conference next Friday, July 7th at 10:00 a.m. The Conference will be preceded by a meeting of Liaison Counsel at 8:45 a.m., and a meeting of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee at 9:00 a.m.
Taxotere was brought to market by Sanofi-Aventis in 1996, while the first generic brand was approved in 2001. Although hair loss is a common occurrence with chemotherapy, Taxotere lawsuit plaintiffs allege that docetaxel is far more likely to cause permanent alopecia compared to other equally-effective cancer drugs.
In December 2015, the U.S. labels for name-brand and generic versions of Taxotere were updated to note that permanent hair loss had been reported in patients treated with docetaxel. However, this potential side effect had been identified years earlier during a clinical trial called GEICAM 9805, in which 9.2 percent of Taxotere patients experienced persistent alopecia for up to 10 years and five months and in some cases longer. In 2006, an unidentified Denver-based oncologist reported observing permanent hair loss in 6.3 percent of his Taxotere patients.
Finally, plaintiffs point out that the European doctors and patients were informed of the potential for permanent hair loss in 2005, while the Canadian Taxotere label underwent a similar modification in 2012. By contrast, the U.S. prescribing information only included a vaguely worded and insufficient statement that “hair generally grows back.”
“As a direct result of Defendants’ failure to warn patients of the risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia in the United States, thousands of women, including Plaintiff, as well as their health care providers, were deprived of the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether the benefits of using Taxotere over other comparable products was justified,” the complaints charge.