The federal court overseeing hundreds of Taxotere lawsuits filed over the cancer drug’s alleged association with permanent alopecia has issued a new Pretrial Order pertaining to the collection of data by the Plaintiffs’ Settlement Committee.
According to a September 7th filing in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, the goal of the Order is to “identify, both now and during the pendency of this matter, any and all individuals with potential docetaxel-related permanent hair loss claims, and thus any and all putative claimants who may be eligible to participate in any future resolution system.”
Among other things, the Order directs all Taxotere lawyers and law firms participating in the federal hair loss litigation to provide a report to the court on any individuals with potential hair loss claims, even if the cases have not yet been filed.
Identifying and reporting all potential claimants is a requirement for participating in any Taxotere settlement that results from the litigation.
The Court must receive initial identifications no later than September 30, 2017. Attorneys are to update their filings whenever any new potential claimants are identified. Finally, they are to ensure that all information contained in their filing is complete and accurate at the end of every quarter.
Taxotere is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis and was approved to treat breast cancer by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996. The chemotherapy drug has since been approved to treat other cancers, including head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
Although alopecia, or hair loss, commonly occurs during chemotherapy, plaintiffs allege that hair loss associated with Taxotere is far more likely to be permanent compared to hair loss that accompanies treatment with alternative, equally effective chemotherapy medications.
Among other things, plaintiffs point out that the European medical community was informed of the potential for permanent hair loss in 2005, while the Canadian Taxotere label underwent a similar modification in 2012. However, mention of permanent alopecia was not included on the U.S. Taxotere label until December 2015.
The Taxotere multidistrict litigation was established in October 2016, when just 33 permanent alopecia lawsuits were transferred to the Eastern District of Louisiana. As of September 15, 2017, the litigation had grown to include 1,624 Taxotere lawsuits.
The Court established the Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ Settlement Committees in December 2016, and directed member attorneys to “hold regular discussions, in an attempt to establish common understandings, potential ground rules, component parts and concepts, anticipated relief, necessary approvals, and ultimately financial details, including drafting of all pertinent documents, in an attempt to resolve this matter prior to remand of some or all of the member cases.”