Thousands of pending lawsuits against the manufacturers of cancer drug Taxotere are poised to move forward as courts prepare to hear a second test trial.
Courts are preparing to hear the second bellwether trial for a series of lawsuits against pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis, indicating that thousands of cases against the firm may soon move towards settlements and trials.
Drug companies behind Taxotere and similar cancer drugs are facing more than 10,000 lawsuits over their failure to disclose the risk of permanent baldness associated with their products. The lawsuits are now part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Sanofi-Aventis and other manufacturers of similar cancer treatments.
As the suits go ahead, the drug companies may be liable to pay cancer patients, survivors and their families millions of dollars in compensation.
Taxotere, also known as docetaxel, is a cancer drug used to treat breast cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer and some lung cancers.
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The condition triggered by Taxotere, known as permanent alopecia, has been shown to significantly impact patients’ quality of life. Though many chemotherapy treatments cause hair loss, permanent hair loss—like that caused by Taxotere—is rare.
The suits against Sanofi-Aventis claim the company was aware that its product could potentially cause permanent hair loss but failed to inform consumers.
Patient advocates say the risks are backed up by independent research. One study in the UK found that as many as 15% of women who were treated using docetaxel developed permanent baldness.
Another study at Montpellier University then showed the impacts of the alopecia on Taxotere patients. The findings showed that docetaxel led to significantly decreased quality of life for patients. It also suggested that patients treated with Taxotere experienced far worse impacts on their quality of life than patients treated with other, similar chemotherapy drugs.
On the market since 2011, Taxotere is also sold under the generic name Docetaxel. Docetaxel drugs are also sold by Acavis, Dr. Reddy’s, Mylan Labs, Shilpa Medicare, Pfizer, Sandoz, Teikoku, Teva and other firms.
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