Taxotere Lawsuit Update September 2022 – Forbes Advisor – Forbes


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Published: Sep 12, 2022, 9:27am
Drug manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis is at the center of thousands of lawsuits over its breast cancer chemotherapy drug Taxotere. Patients allege the company failed to provide a full warning of the side effects associated with Taxotere.
This guide provides information about the medical issues caused by Taxotere, the status of the lawsuits and explains who is eligible to bring a claim and what type of compensation to expect.
Taxotere is the brand name for the drug Docetaxel, which Sanofi, then Rhone-Poulenc, patented in 1986. In 2004, the company successfully merged with Aventis Pharmaceuticals in a cash and stock deal valued at $65 billion. That same year, the Food and Drug Administration approved Taxotere for use in chemotherapy.
Taxotere is part of a family of drugs known as taxanes that work by preventing cell growth. It is used as a treatment for various cancers, most notably breast cancer. By 2010, the drug had reportedly been used worldwide to treat 1.5 million patients; it generated $3.1 billion in annual sales.
Some patients have alleged that Taxotere caused serious side effects they were not warned about and have filed lawsuits seeking damages. These include permanent hair loss and eye damage.
In 2016, Taxotere lawsuits about hair loss were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). An MDL is not the same as a class action suit. In a class action, a few plaintiffs are chosen to represent the entire class of injured parties. An MDL is a group of individual lawsuits that are grouped together in one court. For convenience, one judge hears discovery and pre-trial motions in a few sample cases called bellwether cases. The individual cases are then sent back to be heard individually.
In 2022 a separate MDL was established to hear cases involving eye damage stemming from Taxotere use.
Both MDLs are being heard in a Louisiana federal district court and are overseen by a sole federal district judge. There are currently more than 30,000 lawsuits in the hair loss MDL and 12,000 in the eye damage MDL.
At the peak of Taxotere’s success, blood disorders, fluid retention and skin issues were the most commonly known side effects. Patients were also told to expect hair loss.
However, thousands of patients state that Sanofii failed to warn that the drug causes a condition known as alopecia universalis, which is the permanent loss of hair on the scalp or body. Instead of experiencing hair regrowth three to four months after therapy ceased, patients experienced less than 50% regrowth or saw no hair regrowth at all.
Another consequence of Taxotere use in chemotherapy was patients suffering from excessively watery eyes or epiphora, leading to significant eye damage and vision loss. Though Sanofi did acknowledge the side effect, the plaintiffs allege that the company did not go far enough in detailing the risks.
Whether related to hair loss or vision damage, plaintiffs claim the company had early and detailed knowledge of the long-term harm Taxotere caused and failed to make all of this information known to patients and doctors in a timely manner.
Though Taxotere achieved FDA approval for chemotherapy use in 2004, Dr. Scot Sedlacek at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in Colorado conducted a study in December 2006 that suggested nearly 6.3% of breast cancer patients who used the drug suffered from complete or permanent hair loss.
In pursuing Taxotere lawsuits against Sanofi, plaintiffs argued the company had knowledge of the risks of chemotherapy-induced alopecia since 2006 but failed to take the appropriate level of responsibility to warn doctors and patients. Meanwhile, some argued that Safoni was culpable even before the research was presented in 2006. This was due to the company receiving Adverse Event Reports from Sedlacek in 2005.
In 2009, the FDA determined that claims Sanofi made that Taxotere was more effective than other chemo drugs were false and that, in fact, it is less effective than other drugs.
In 2016, an MDL was established for Taxotere hair loss lawsuits, consolidating them before one judge for discovery and pre-trial motions. In 2020, the judge dismissed nearly 200 hair loss cases that resulted in injuries after Sanofi updated the Taxotere warning label per FDA demands in 2015.
Sanofi initially won its first two bellwether cases in the hair loss MDL. However, in February 2022, an appeals court overturned the 2019 victory. In 2021, the judge in one of the bellwether trials in Louisiana found for Sanofi and the plaintiff plans to appeal. Hair loss lawsuits are still pending in other states.
Though most cases against Sanofi relate to permanent hair loss, other lawsuits are tied to eye problems. Sanofi warned patients that Taxotere can cause excessive tearing, or epiphora, due to lacrimal duct obstruction. However, the patients believe Safoni failed to fully warn patients and oncologists that the damage may be quick and irreversible. For instance, a 2001 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology linked Docetaxel/Taxotere to epiphora.
As of August 2022, the eye damage MDL remains in the pre-trial phase, with cases consolidated and moved into the same Louisiana federal district court as the hair loss MDL.
If you used Taxotere during your cancer therapy and have since suffered side effects related to permanent or semi-permanent hair loss or eye damage, there may still be time to file a lawsuit against Sanofi.
Each state has its own statute of limitations, a deadline by which product liability cases can be filed. In most states this is two years from the date the injury or damage was discovered. If you used Taxotere after 2015 when Sanofi updated its labeling about hair loss, there is a chance your case for hair loss could be dismissed.
If you have suffered hair loss or eye damage after taking Taxotere, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important to talk with an attorney who has experience in similar product liability cases or who is already handling other Taxotere claims. It is likely your case would be combined with the others in the MDL. Note that some law firms only handle eye damage or hair loss and not both.
You may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered any of the following after using Taxotere:
Currently, there are technically no class action lawsuits related to Taxotere. Instead, individual lawsuits have been consolidated into separate MDLs for hair loss and eye damage. Though there are no class action suits, this could change depending on the outcome of future bellwether cases.
There have been no settlements announced in the hair loss or eye damage lawsuits regarding Taxotere.
Because there have been no settlements to date, it is difficult to estimate what a Taxotere claim might settle for. Additionally, it is important to note that the hair loss and eye damage claims are different, and while hair loss can be extremely distressing, loss of vision would likely result in a higher settlement.
The value of a Taxotere claim will depend upon a variety of factors including:
Litigation remains ongoing, with most Taxotere cases in the pre-trial phase; so far there are no settlements.
Bellwether trials typically feature a handful of cases out of hundreds or thousands. Individual cases usually do not settle before bellwether trials occur because they are seen as important test cases.
Bellwether trials typically last between one and two years. This does not include any potential appeals that might follow.
Toni Matthews-El is a writer and journalist based in Delaware. When she’s not tracking the impact of automation on the retail industry or the latest in digital privacy laws, she’s cheering on the Indianapolis Colts while planning her next international adventure.

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