23 Sep Is Permanent Hair Loss Unique To Taxotere? (Updated 2022)
or a long time, malignancy or cancer had no cure or remedy except wait for death. Since the advent of Chemotherapy, cancer patients could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Chemotherapy agents and radiation were given in combination or as individuals to cancer patients and showed results that were a miracle in itself – they helped prolong the life of cancer patients.
Taxotere entered the chemotherapeutic drug market with a lot of ambitious promises. These Taxane class drugs were supposedly going to revolutionize cancer cure. However, currently, Taxotere is under tremendous backlash and over 10,000 lawsuits worldwide.
What is Taxotere?
Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug primarily used in breast cancer treatment. It is classified under the Taxane group of drugs. Primarily functioning as mitotic inhibitor, the drug acts by attacking the specific malignant cells. Taxotere inhibits mitotic cellular division, thus stopping in the pathological growth of the cancerous tissue.
However, in addition to affecting the cell division of targeted malignant cells, Taxotere has been noted to have a few added adverse effects. Cellular reproduction in other areas also is inhibited, especially in the case of hair follicles. This results in drastic hair fall, thus causing alopecia which may or may not be permanent damage.
Docetaxel, the primary generic version, was initially approved by the FDA due to its high rate of success amidst the trial case studies. Actavis, Dr Reddy’s, Sandoz, Pfizer, Taikoku, and Northstar Rx were a few global pharmaceutical brands that began to mass-produce Taxotere as a drug of choice for the treatment of Cancer. Both Taxotere and Taxol are under the Taxane class of chemotherapy agents. Though they belong to the same plant cellular growth-inhibiting agents, Taxotere is much stronger and effective than Taxol.
Taxotere and the controversial lawsuit saga
Taxotere came under the fire from the general public after a series of complaints were lodged by cancer patients. Though the drug was effective in inhibiting cancer cell growth, there were a lot of adverse effects on patients.
Bowel disorders like constipation and diarrhea aside, patients often complained of continuous bouts of nausea, headache, and fatigue. Additionally, the clinical investigation showed a decrease in the white blood cells (WBC) and red blood cells (RBC) count.
However, one of the most drastic changes that were visible was the alarming rate at which the patients had hair fall. Clusters of hair began to fall off within days of administering the Taxotere. Although the hair loss was reportedly a temporary aftereffect of hair follicle growth inhibition, many cancer survivors reported that the hair loss seemed permanent. This resulted in an extreme dissatisfaction among the patients.
Since the actual aftereffect was never clearly mentioned by the pharmaceutical companies, filing lawsuits was easy for the patients and their families. Sanofi- Aventis, one of the leading Pharmaceutical giants, came into limelight when over 10,000 cases were filed against the company for the same drug brand of Taxotere.
After the lawsuit became Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in the United States of America, things took a worse turn. Today, there are thousands of lawsuits that are still in proceeding whereas the company may have to pay millions of dollars in compensation to the victims and their families.
Is Taxotere-induced hair loss permanent?
This is a very controversial situation as the investigation is still underway. The opinion of researchers and experts worldwide is a mixed bag as the drug is yet being tested and studied.
Balding has a psychological effect on one’s personality. Breast cancer survivors often already have to battle with physical alterations. The burden from hair loss or baldness can be a source of additional mental stress that many cannot handle.
The result of Taxotere usage has shown varied results in the patients. The degree of baldness associated with the use of Taxotere has also shown fluctuation. Experts believe that the hair loss caused by Taxotere is greatly affected by genetics and the overall health of the patients too.
Though numerous cases have shown permanent alopecia due to Taxotere side effects, many have shown signs of hair regrowth after stopping the usage of Taxotere for a while.
Sanofi Aventis has been under fire for Taxotere’s usage as it was the primary producer of the Taxane class drug in America. With 11, 000 lawsuits filed as of 2020, the advocates of the medicine have still been persistent of its benefits.
However, according to the iconic Sedlacek study conducted at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Denver, Persistent Significant Alopecia (PSA) is common in over 50%. This research was carried out further after the first publication in 2006, concluding that PSA is a significant drawback of Taxotere.