Taxotere lawsuits continue to move forward in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where all federally-filed claims involving the cancer drugs’ alleged potential to cause permanent hair loss have been centralized before a single judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
According to a Pretrial Order dated September 20th, the Court will allow plaintiffs to amend their Master Complaint to add Sagent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as a new defendant.
Sagent Pharmaceuticals is one of several companies that market docetaxel, the generic version of Taxotere.
The Order also allows the Master Complaint to be amended to add Actavis LLC f/k/a Actavis Inc. as an additional defendant.
Taxotere (docetaxel) was initially approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 to treat breast cancer. Since then, the drug’s approved indications have been expanded to include the treatment of head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
There are nearly 9,300 Taxotere lawsuits currently pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana, all of which were filed on behalf of cancer survivors who allegedly experienced permanent alopecia due to their treatment with Taxotere or generic equivalent.
Chemotherapy drugs typically cause temporary hair loss. However, plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that Taxotere is more likely to cause permanent hair loss compared to equally-effective alternatives. Among other things, their complaints cite several case reports and studies that suggest patients exposed to docetaxel are more likely to suffer from the persistent or permanent loss of hair.
The complaints also note 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. However, mention of permanent hair loss was not added to the drug’s U.S. label until December 2015.
The federal Taxotere litigation was established in October 2016, when just over 30 claims were transferred to the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The cases are currently undergoing coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings. The litigation is expected to begin a series of bellwether trials in May 2019. Verdicts in these trials could provide insight into how juries might rule in similar Taxotere lawsuits.
In addition to the federal litigation, hundreds of Taxotere permanent hair loss claims have been filed in state courts around the country.
Last month, more than 300 Taxotere lawsuits file New Jersey were centralized before a single judge in Middlesex County Superior Court. That litigation will convene its first conference on October 4th.