Hair loss is one of the common side effects of chemotherapy. However, this effect is supposed to be temporary, and most patients look forward to their hair growing back. This is not the case for cancer patients who have been using Taxotere.
What is Taxotere?
Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug produced by French drug company Sanofi. It was approved by the Food and Drugs Agency in 1999. Initially, it was approved for use by patients suffering from cell lung cancer. Over the years, however, it has been shown to be effective against a wide range of cancers including breast, neck, gastric, and prostate cancer. In fact, it is the best recommendation against breast cancer.
Taxotere’s popularity has grown partly because of its vast application as well as its efficacy – it offers relief for up to three weeks compared to other drugs that last for only one week.
A Costly Deception
For years, Taxotere was presented as the ideal chemotherapy drug. Its marketers were so exaggerative that the FDA issued the company with a warning letter for what it cited as unproven superiority claims.
However, in the recent years, researchers have discovered that Taxotere’s manufacturers were not entirely truthful. Not only is the drug not as effective as marketed, but it also comes with a wide range of hidden side effects – prominent among these side effects is hair loss. Since the company didn’t state that the drug has permanent hair loss effects; affected patients have been flocking to courts to sue the parent company, Sanofi.
The earliest lawsuit against Sanofi was filed in 2015, and the proceedings are still ongoing. By mid-2016, there were about 33 hair loss lawsuits against Sanofi filed in 16 federal courts across the U.S. Owing to the numeracy of these cases, attorneys asked the courts to compose a panel of judges to listen to the cases as a collective.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Legislation heeded the attorneys’ plea and on October 4, 2016, composed a panel to listen to the cases. The cases were consolidated under the products liability litigation MDL no. 2740. They will be heard in the Eastern District of Louisiana and will be overseen by Chief Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt. The total number of plaintiffs is estimated at over 2,300, and more and more plaintiffs are joining the lawsuit.
An Ongoing Battle
As expected, Sanofi has come out strongly in defense of Taxotere. As such, the legal batter is still ongoing as more and more people file lawsuits and as the company fights back.
Considering that similar lawsuits can go on for years, it doesn’t seem like this case will be concluded anytime soon unless all parties agree on out-of-court taxotere settlement awards. In the meanwhile, however, most plaintiffs are taking out lawsuit fines to help them finance their cancer treatments. With time, however, the plaintiffs may have their way and get compensation for the company’s deceitfulness that has led to the loss of their hair and the social and personal constraints that come with it.