The hair loss drug, Taxotere (docetaxel), is a popular chemotherapy medication used in the treatment of breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and prostate cancer. Taxotere works by attacking cancer cells in the body and is given via an infusion in the vein.
According to a 2008 New England Journal of Medicine study of nearly 5,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer, the Taxotere treatments that have been marketed as having “superior efficacy” were no more effective than standard taxane. Despite this study, 75% of women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer have been given Taxotere and Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturer of Taxotere, continues to rack up sales of more than $1 billion each year.
Even more important than the lack of superiority of Taxotere over standard taxane, is the fact that Sanofi-Aventis was aware of decades-old research suggesting that 9.2 percent of Taxotere patients experienced persistent hair loss for up to 10 years or longer, yet failed to warn doctors and U.S. consumers.
Information regarding the link between Taxotere and alopecia was provided to doctors and patients in Europe as early as 2005 and Canada in 2012 but it was not until 2015 that U.S. patients were made aware of this horrific side effect.
Since U.S. consumers were not presented with a chance to make an informed choice as to whether the benefits of Taxotere outweighed its risks, victims are now filing taxotere lawsuits. Some plaintiffs have alleged that if they had known about this side effect, they would have opted for the less potent chemotherapy drug Taxol, which has not been linked to alopecia.
According to Ami Dodson, a California woman who experienced permanent hair loss after her Taxotere treatments during her battle with breast cancer, Sanofi-Aventis concealed the existence of studies and “obtained billions of dollars in increased revenues at the expense of unwary cancer victims simply hoping to survive their condition and return to a normal life.”
Ami Dodson joins more than 1,100 plaintiffs in taxotere lawsuits, many of which are being heard in a multidistrict litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana.