On Oct. 4, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered that all federally filed Taxotere lawsuits involving allegations of permanent hair loss be consolidated for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. The JPML’s Order transferred 33 Taxotere lawsuits, which were filed in 16 federal jurisdictions, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt will preside over the newly formed MDL No. 2740.

Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug approved to treat breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, advanced stomach cancer, head and neck cancer and metastatic prostate cancer. The drug, a member of a family of drugs called taxanes, is administered intravenously. It is used in an effort to prevent cancer cells from growing and dividing.

When Sanofi-Aventis started manufacturing Taxotere, it marketed and promoted the drug as more potent and effective than Taxol, a competitive chemotherapy agent distributed and produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb. Sanofi-Aventis intentionally developed Taxotere to be twice as strong as Taxol in an effort to claim a large market share in the highly profitable chemotherapy market segment. However, Taxotere has been found to be significantly more dangerous and linked to a higher number of side effects as compared to Taxol. Additionally, Taxol can be used at lower doses than Taxotere with similar effects.

In 2007, Sanofi-Aventis issued a press release touting the efficacy of Taxotere based on a clinical study, GEICAM 9805. However, Sanofi-Aventis failed to inform the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health care providers, and the public that in the GEICAM 9805 study permanent hair loss persisted into the follow-up period (10 years and five months was the median follow-up) and was observed to be ongoing in 9.2 percent of the patients taking Taxotere.

Hair loss, a very common side effect of fighting cancer during chemotherapy, is expected. However, patients undergoing chemotherapy with Taxotere were not warned they could potentially experience permanent hair loss. As you can imagine, permanent hair loss is an extremely debilitating condition, especially for women. The permanent loss of hair is more than cosmetic. For cancer survivors it is a constant reminder of their struggle and a completely unnecessary result of chemotherapy treatment.

Lawyers at Beasley Allen are currently investigating potential cases involving individuals who have suffered permanent hair loss following chemotherapy with Taxotere. For more information on this subject, contact Beau Darley or Melissa Prickett, lawyers in our firm’s Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Beau.Darley@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.

Sources: United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, October 4, 2016 Transfer Order; www.drugsafetynews.com; and PR News Wire

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