Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug manufactured and sold by Sanofi-Aventis. It is administered intravenously, usually during one hour-long infusion treatments that are repeated every 3-4 weeks. Taxotere is intended to prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing by causing the structure of cancer cells to stiffen. Taxotere has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for the treatment of breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, hormone refractory prostate cancer, gastric adenocarcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Taxotere is often used in combination with other drugs, which are intended to reduce the side effects of Taxotere. But even when used in combination with these side effect reducing drugs, Taxotere has several serious possible side effects.
One potentially devastating side effect of Taxotere is permanent alopecia (hair loss). Although many chemotherapy drugs are known to cause temporary hair loss, with most chemotherapy drugs hair begins growing back 3 – 6 months after treatment ends. With Taxotere on the other hand, many patients never regrow hair or regrow only patches of very thin hair.
Lawsuits are being filed against Sanofi-Aventis by women who have suffered permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere. These lawsuits assert that Sanofi-Aventis hid research linking Taxotere to permanent hair loss and made false claims in its marketing materials.
Results from a research study called GEICAM 9805, which was sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis, revealed that 9.2% of women who used Taxotere suffered permanent alopecia. And while Sanofi knew of these results in 2005, it did not begin warning patients in the U.S. of the risk of permanent hair loss until the FDA forced it to do so in December 2015. Sanofi did, however, warn patients in other countries. In fact, as early as 2005 Sanofi included warnings about permanent hair loss on Taxotere sold in in Europe, and in 2012 began including similar warnings on Taxotere sold in Canada. But prior to December, 2015 Taxotere sold in the U.S. claimed, “Once you have completed all your treatments, hair generally grows back.”
When Sanofi-Aventis began marketing Taxotere, it claimed the drug was more effective than its competitor drug, Taxol. But a study published by BreastCancer.org shows that women who received Taxol, had a higher survival rate than women who received Taxotere. Similarly, a study published in Cancer Treatment Reviews compared the two drugs and found that Taxotere produced no greater benefits than Taxol. The study also found that patients who took Taxotere often developed a resistance to it, which required higher, more toxic doses as compared to Taxol. Accordingly, the women who have sued Sanofi-Aventis allege that if their doctors had received proper warnings about the risks of taking Taxotere, including the risk of permanent hair loss, they would have taken Taxol instead.
If you or a loved one suffered permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Canepa, Riedy, Abele, & Fischer are currently offering free case evaluations to patients who have been harmed by Taxotere. To learn more about your legal options, please contact us for a free consultation.
 Taxotere Patient Information Leaflet for Taxotere, Rev. December 2005