Hundreds of women who allegedly experienced permanent hair loss due to their exposure to Taxotere have requested that their claims be centralized before a single judge in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court.
According to an application filed with the Acting Administrative Director of the New Jersey Courts on March 13th, at least 353 Taxotere lawsuits are currently pending in Superior Courts throughout the state. All of the plaintiffs underwent Taxotere chemotherapy for breast cancer and subsequently experienced permanent alopecia.
The lawsuits claim that Sanofi-Aventis and other defendants were aware of the potential for Taxotere to cause permeant hair loss but failed to warn doctors and patients of this risk for many years. Plaintiffs seek damages for the personal injuries they suffered due to the defendants’ alleged wrongful conduct in designing, manufacturing, distributing, labeling, advertising, marketing, promoting, and selling Taxotere as a breast cancer treatment.
The majority of New Jersey Taxotere lawsuits – 333 – are pending in Middlesex County Superior Court. The remainder have been filed in Bergen County, Camden County, Union County, Essex County and Hudson County.
Plaintiffs assert that centralization will improve judicial efficiency by, among other things, minimizing duplicative motions practice and inconsistent court rulings.
According to Notice posted on the Court’s website, interested parties who wish to comment on or object to this application must do so in writing by May 14, 2018.
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug marketed by Sanofi-Aventis. while it was initially approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 to treat breast cancer, Taxotere’s approved indications have since been expanded to include the treatment of head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
The Taxotere label was updated in December 2015 to note permanent hair loss as a possible side effect.
Plaintiffs who have filed Taxotere lawsuits acknowledge that temporary hair loss is a common side effect of most chemotherapy agents. However, they contend that alopecia associated with Taxotere is far more likely to be permanent compared to equally effective alternative medications.
Among other things, plaintiffs point out that the European medical community was informed of the potential for docetaxel-induced permanent hair loss in 2005, while the Canadian Taxotere label underwent a similar modification in 2012. Their lawsuits question why the U.S. label was not modified prior to 2015.
Federally-filed Taxotere lawsuits are have already been centralized in a multidistrict litigation that is currently underway in the U.S. District Court, Eastern of Louisiana. Just over 7,800 cases were pending in the federal proceeding as of April 15, 2018.