Taxotere lawsuits are moving forward in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where preparations continue for upcoming trials.
According to an Order dated November 8th, the Court now intends to convene 6 bellwether trials. As such, the parties have nominated 18 additional lawsuits as candidates for the fourth, fifth, and sixth trials. Those cases will undergo Phase I Discovery between November 1, 2018 and May 1, 2019.
The November 8th Order also directed the parties to nominate 12 more candidates for the fifth and sixth bellwether trials by May 1, 2019. Those Taxotere lawsuits will be subject to Phase I Discovery between May 1, 2019 and September 30, 2019.
“For the selections on November 1, 2018 and May 1, 2019, the Court expects the parties to select Plaintiffs whose claims are representative of the characteristics of claims in the litigation overall,” the Order states. “Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the Court, venue for each selected case must be proper in a United States District Court over which the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has jurisdiction.”
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) initially approved Taxotere (docetaxel) to treat breast cancer in 1996. Since then, the agency has approved the drug for head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
The FDA cleared the first generic version of docetaxel in 2010.
More than 9,550 Taxotere lawsuits are consolidated before a single judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana. All of the claims were filed on behalf of individuals who allegedly experienced permanent hair loss following chemotherapy with Taxotere or generic versions of docetaxel.
Hundreds of Taxotere lawsuits have also been filed in state courts throughout the United States, including at least 300 cases that were recently centralized in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court.
While plaintiffs acknowledge that temporary hair loss is a common side effect of most chemotherapy agents, they assert that docetaxel is far more likely to cause permanent alopecia compared to equally effective alternative treatments.
Among other things, the complaints note that permanent alopecia has been listed as a possible side effect on Taxotere’s European label since 2005, while the Canadian label underwent a similar modification in 2012. Meanwhile, the prescribing information for Taxotere sold in the United States lacked any mention of permanent hair loss until December 2015.
The federal Taxotere litigation will convene its first trial on May 13, 2019. As a bellwether trial, the verdict in this case could provide insight into how other juries might rule in similar cases.