Have You Suffered Permanent Hair Loss After Being Treated with Taxotere for Breast Cancer?
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More than 3 million women in the United States have a history of breast cancer and many feel that one of the biggest things that signifies ‘getting back to normal’ is the regrowth of hair that was lost during treatment. Chemo can cause not only the hair on your head to fall out, but also your eyelashes and eyebrows, nose hair, pubic hair, as well as all other body hair.
Yet far too many women who complete chemo never regrow their hair, or their eyebrows and eyelashes, or normal body hair because of the drug they were treated with. These women allege they were cheated by a drug maker who promised that chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere was better and safer than with other similar drugs but never warned them of the dangers of permanent baldness.
Taxotere Linked to Permanent Hair Loss
Though it is not uncommon for a patient to lose their hair while they are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, the hair typically starts to grow back not long after treatment ends. But for some patients who were treated with Taxotere, the hair loss is permanent.
Taxotere has been linked to a condition called alopecia, which is permanent and irreversible hair loss. For some women who experience this adverse event, none of their hair regrows, while other women are only able to grow thin, wispy strands. Women who do regrow their hair may notice that it falls out again for no reason. For many women, being left with alopecia after treatment has a tremendously negative effect on their body image and their lives. Some of these women say that while they want to rejoice at beating cancer, they can’t because they still look like cancer victims. In fact, the effects of permanent baldness can be so troubling for some patients that it has a significant impact on the person’s self-image and quality of life.
Not all patients experience treatment-related alopecia, but for those that do, you may find that hair in some areas of the body regrows, while other areas remain hair-free. In fact, researchers found that, of 189 early breast cancer patients studied, 15.8 percent experienced permanent alopecia. Of these patients:
- Wigs and hair extensions were worn by 16 patients
- No body hair regrew for 14 patients
- Nostril hair did not grow back in 6 patients
- Eyebrows did not regrow in 5 patients
- Two patients did not regrow eyelashes
Because of how devastating the side effects of the drug can be, researchers have made clear that permanent hair loss must be considered when physicians are devising treatment plans.
How Taxotere Works
Taxotere, generic name Docetaxel, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 and is made by Sanofi-Aventis. It is touted by its makers as the most prescribed drug in its class with estimates that more than three-fourths of all breast cancer patients are treated with the antimicrotubule agent.
Taxotere is used for several types of cancer including:
- Advanced stomach cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cancers of the neck and head
- Metastatic prostate cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
Currently, the drug is being investigated for its potential use in the treatment of:
- Lung cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Small cell bladder cancer
- Soft-tissue sarcomas and melanoma
Taxotere is administered through I.V., and the dosage is dependent upon individual factors including the patient’s:
- Overall general health
- Type of cancer being treated
Taxotere works by inhibiting specific structures within a cell that are needed for cell division. Without these structures, the cell is unable to divide and in turn dies before it spreads.
Patients Would Have Chosen A Different Chemotherapy
Some patients say they would not have received Taxotere treatment if they had known of the risks of permanent hair loss. They believe that they should have been warned of the risks before treatment was started and been given the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of the drugs for themselves. If you experienced alopecia after being treated with Taxotere you may be entitled to seek compensation. Contact us now to learn more about Taxotere alopecia and the legal options that may be available to you.
Potential Side Effects of Taxotere
Taxotere has many side effects, but most will cease once treatment is completed. Because dosage of the drug depends on the individual, some patients on higher doses may experience side effects that are more severe than those on lower doses.
Some of the more common side effects experienced during treatment include:
- Color changes in or loss of finger and toenails.
- Hair loss
- Low red blood cells
- Low white blood cells
- Mouth sores
- 5 to 9 days for nadir
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Unexplained weight gain
- Fluid retention in the abdomen or ankles
Some of the less common side effects include:
- Pain in the bones, muscles, or joints
- Liver problems
- Low platelets
FDA Requires Taxotere Labeling Change
Even though the drug was approved for use in 1996, it wasn’t until 2015 that the FDA required the safety label of Taxotere be changed to warn patients about the risks of developing alopecia. Those who were affected by the company’s failure to inform the medical community and their patients about the risks of alopecia may be eligible for compensation. We can help you learn more about this devastating side effect and how you may be able to seek the justice you deserve.
The FDA has required Sanofi to change the drug’s warning label several times since it was first approved for use in the United States. Some of these warnings include both respiratory and eye adverse events such as:
- Acute pulmonary edema
- Cystoid macular edema
- Decreased vision
- Acute respiratory distress
- Interstitial lung disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Respiratory failure
The FDA requires a Black Box warning for Taxotere for serious and potentially life-threatening adverse events. The Black Box warning is the strongest warning required by the government watchdog group. Adverse events listed in the Black Box warning include:
- Rash, low blood pressure, anaphylaxis or other allergic reaction
- Fluid retention
- Kidney damage (hepatoxicity)
- Toxic death
Taxotere Alopecia Lawsuits
Lawsuits continue to mount as cancer patients across the country allege that the pharma giant Sanofi exposed them to the increased toxicity of the drug as compared to other drugs as well as the side effects of permanent hair loss. They also allege that the drug maker:
- knew that the drug was more dangerous than its competitors, and
- knew the drug could cause alopecia, and
- worked to hide issues with the drug and marketed it as better than its competitors to increase sales.
Patients that were harmed by the deceptive tactics of the drugmaker are seeking justice and demanding compensation. Drugmakers have a duty to report to the FDA and the medical community all known side effects and adverse events of the product. They are also required to list these events and side effects on the product label, but Sanofi failed to warn the FDA, the medical community, and patients who were treated with the drug.
But it’s not just patients who are filing lawsuits. In 1995, a former employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Sanofi alleging that it:
- paid kickbacks to healthcare providers as an incentive to get them to prescribe the drug for off-label uses, and
- trained its employees to expand its share of the market by misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of the drug.
The lawsuit says that as a result of these actions, sales of Taxotere jumped from over $400 million to more than $1.4 billion within four years.
We Protect the Rights of Patients
Drug companies have a duty to ensure their products are safe and when they fail that duty, patients who suffered injuries have rights. Many patients are exercising their rights and seeking justice through the courts. These patients are filing lawsuits against the maker of Taxotere, alleging that if they had known of the risks of the drug, they would not have been treated with it. These patients say they were denied the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding their medical care.
If you are a patient who suffered baldness, permanent hair loss or alopecia after receiving Taxotere treatments, contact us today. Patients who are eligible to seek compensation may be able to receive significant damages for:
- Their mental anguish and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement
- Psychological damage
- Medical costs and expenses
- Lost wages
Contact one of our deeply experienced drug attorneys today to learn more about the laws designed to protect patients from deceptive marketing and hidden adverse events. Our law firm has established a long record of successfully protecting the rights of our clients who have been harmed by deceptive marketing practices. We are dedicated to fighting for the rights of patients harmed by the drugs they need. If you have permanently lost your hair after receiving treatment with Taxotere, contact us today. We stand ready to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.