Joint Status Report Outlines Progress of Federal Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuits

Published on July 23, 2018 by Sandy Liebhard

Federally-filed Taxotere lawsuits involving the chemotherapy drug’s alleged potential to cause permanent hair loss continue to move forward in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.

The litigation convened its most recent status conference on July 18th.  A day prior, attorneys representing plaintiffs and defendants filed a Joint Status Report with the Court, outlining the progress of the proceeding thus far.

More than 9,100 Taxotere Lawsuits Pending in Federal Litigation

Among other things, the report notes that more than 9,100 Taxotere lawsuits are currently undergoing centralized pretrial proceedings in the Eastern District of Louisiana. There are also state court proceedings pending in California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Delaware, though most of these have been removed to federal court.

Discovery of defendants and trial case discovery is continuing.

“Plaintiffs have served merits discovery on Sanofi, and the Sanofi Defendants have begun the process of producing responsive documents. Plaintiffs have also served merits discovery on Accord Healthcare, Inc., the Hospira/Pfizer Defendants, and Sandoz Inc. and have begun to receive productions,” the report states. “The parties have met and conferred multiple times about this discovery served by the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs and Defendants are also conducting depositions in the cases selected for trial. The parties are generally addressing discovery disputes with Magistrate Judge North.”

Taxotere Bellwether Trials to Begin Next May

As previously reported, the federal Taxotere litigation is scheduled to convene five bellwether trials beginning in May 2019 as follows:

  • May 13-24, 2019
  • September 16-27, 2019
  • January 27-February 7, 2020
  • May 11-22, 2020
  • September 14-25, 2020

Bellwether trials are intended to serve as test cases, and their verdicts could provide insight into how other juries will decide similar Taxotere hair loss lawsuits

Taxotere and Permanent Hair Loss

Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug marketed by Sanofi-Aventis. It was initially approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 to treat breast cancer. However, its 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.

Generic versions of docetaxel have been available in the U.S. since 2010.

While temporary hair loss is an expected side effect of most chemotherapy agents, Taxotere lawsuit plaintiffs claim alopecia associated with docetaxel is far more likely to be permanent compared to equally effective alternative medications.

Among other things, plaintiffs note that doctors in Europe and Canada were informed of the potential for docetaxel-induced permanent hair loss in 2005 and 2012, respectively. However, mention of this potential side effect was not added to the U.S. label until 2015.

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