Taxotere Hair Loss Litigation Preps for Upcoming Bellwether Trials

Published on December 12, 2019 by Sandy Liebhard

Thousands of Taxotere lawsuits alleging permanent hair loss are moving forward in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.

According to a Case Management Order dated October 31st, the Court has selected three Taxotere lawsuits to undergo case-specific discovery in preparation for the litigation’s third bellwether trial, which is scheduled to begin on August 10, 2020:

  • Wanda Stewart, 17-cv-10817
  • Dora Sanford, 17-cv-09417
  • Alice Hughes, 17-cv-11769

Taxotere and Permanent Hair Loss

Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy medication indicated to treat breast cancer, head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. While temporary hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that those treated with Taxotere are more likely to experience permanent hair loss compared to patients who receive alternative, but equally effective, chemotherapy agents.

While Taxotere was initially approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 1992, mention of permanent hair loss wasn’t added to the medication’s U.S. label until December 2015. Taxotere plaintiffs assert that, prior to the label update, advertising and marketing misleadingly reassured the U.S. public that Taxotere hair loss was merely temporary.

The complaints note, for example, that as early as 2006, a Denver-based oncologist reported that 6.3% of his Taxotere patients had experienced the permanent loss of hair. Four years later, a study funded by the drug’s manufacturer (GEICAM 9805) found that 9.2% of Taxotere patients suffered hair loss that persisted for 10 years or more. Then, in 2012, a paper published in the Annals of Oncology reported that 19 of 20 women treated with Taxotere had also experienced permanent hair loss.

Sanofi informed the European medical community of the potential for permanent hair loss in 2005, and the drug’s Canadian label underwent a similar modification in 2012. Yet the company waited three more years to updated the U.S. prescribing information, allegedly denying plaintiffs the opportunity to choose equally effective chemotherapy treatments that did not pose a similar risk.

Taxotere Plaintiff Appealing 1st Bellwether Verdict

There are nearly 11,800 Taxotere lawsuits pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The litigation’s first bellwether trial concluded in September with a verdict for the defense. However, the plaintiff is appealing and has requested a new trial because of alleged improprieties pertaining to the testimony of Sanofi’s expert witness. The presiding judge heard oral arguments on the new trial request earlier this month.

The Taxotere litigation’s second bellwether trial is scheduled to begin on March 23, 2020.

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