Taxotere Prompts Lawsuit for Hair Loss?

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Battling the Dark SideAmi Dodson filed a lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis the drug maker of Taxotere (docetaxel.) The chemicals make up an attractive breast cancer chemotherapy drug for breast cancer. Dodson, a Californian, brought the lawsuit claiming she suffered permanent hair loss. Losing hair is one of the potential side effects of the drug. Her claim says the drug maker engaged in marketing the drug to drive up sales. She says they hid increased toxicity compared with other chemotherapy drugs.

The lawsuit said the defendant (Sanofi-Aventis) made billions of dollars in revenue. It claims this was at the expense of cancer victims. These people just wanted to survive their cancer diagnosis. Dodson’s claim is she would not have used Taxotere. She says it wasn’t needed in her treatment. Her claim says she would have wanted one of the other drugs available with less toxic options.

She believes Sanofi-Aventis vague warning that “hair generally grows back” was not enough. She says this was a false claim. She says they warned women in some countries. But yet, women in the United States were not informed by the drug maker.


Side Effects

Taxotere’s original label claimed temporary hair loss could occur with chemotherapy treatment. Studies show Taxotere comes with an increased risk of permanent hair loss. Alopecia is the scientific name for this type of hair loss. It is worse using Taxototere than other chemotherapy drugs. These other drugs could be a good substitute. Permanent hair loss is everywhere. Hair will disappear from the head and entire body. You can even lose pubic hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

The temporary loss of hair during chemotherapy is standard. But it is devastating and emotional. There is an interesting study of Taxotere by the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. Research data showed there was a permanent hair loss of up to 6.3 percent with Taxotere.

Other studies include one starting in the 1990’s. This study followed participants for ten years. One study showed 9.2 percent of patients suffered permanent hair loss. Taxotere was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996.  The company Sanofi-Aventis made $1.4 billion dollars a year by 2004. The FDA approved the drug knowing of the significant toxicity. The National Cancer Institute says it can cause congestive heart failure or leukemia.