Cancer patients should not avoid chemotherapy due to the risk of hair loss, which is usually a temporary side effect of Taxotere. However, studies have found that 6-9% of patients experience permanent hair loss or baldness. After the FDA ordered label updates in December 2015, lawsuits were filed against drug-makers for failing to warn about the risk.
What You Can Do & How We Can Help
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Taxotere induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with permanent hair loss, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Defective Drug Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
Taxotere and Hair Loss
Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturer of Taxotere, is accused of failing to warn about the risk of permanent hair loss until December 2015, when the FDA updated the label.
Before the update, the label on Taxotere reassured patients that “hair generally grows back” after completing treatment. However, the drug-maker’s own studies estimated that 9% of patients experienced persistent or permanent hair loss.
Evidence linking Taxotere and hair loss has been increasing for years. In the 1990s, Sanofi-Aventis sponsored a study called GEICAM 9805 to evaluate Taxotere in combination with other chemotherapy drugs for metastatic breast cancer. By 2005, the researchers found that 9.2% of patients (49 women) experienced persistent hair loss during the 10-year follow-up period.
In 2006, a study by Dr. Scot Sedlacek found that 6.3% of breast cancer patients grew back less than 50% of their hair after they were given Taxotere in combination with Adriamycin (docorubicin) and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide). The study concluded:
“Such an emotionally devastating long-term toxicity from this combination must be taken into account when deciding on adjuvant chemotherapy programs in women who likely will be cured of their breast cancer.”
A study published in 2010 by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology also warned about “an increasing number of reports of permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia,” and blamed Taxotere for some of the cases.
Many women have joined support groups like “Taxotears” and “A Head of Our Time” to share emotional support, compare medical research, and educate health care providers about the risk of permanent baldness from Taxotere. They accuse Sanofi-Aventis of downplaying this potentially disfiguring side effect.
Serious Side Effects More Likely in New Cancer Drugs
In July 2012, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that new cancer drugs (Avastin, Taxotere, and Sutent) are associated with a significantly higher risk of side effects, and more treatment-related deaths, than older standard cancer treatments.
The potential side effects include nerve damage, heart problems, diarrhea, skin problems, and high blood pressure. However, researchers caution that the risk-benefit of cancer treatment is very complicated, and the best treatment varies widely from patient to patient.
The researchers reviewed and analyzed reports on 38 cancer drugs that were approved by the U.S. FDA between 2000 and 2010. The drugs are used in the treatment of colon, breast, and lung cancer.
Researchers found that newer cancer drugs are associated with more side effects and treatment-related deaths than older cancer drugs. The drugs included Avastin (bevacizumab), Taxotere (docetaxel), and Sutent (sunitinib).
Each study involved between 266 and 1,725 cancer patients. Patients who were randomly assigned to a newer drug were 40% more likely to die from a side effect than people who were using standard care of a placebo.
Furthermore, patients taking newer cancer drugs were 52% more likely to have severe side effect, including nerve damage or heart problems. People taking newer cancer drugs were also significantly more likely to discontinue treatment after suffering from serious side effects.
Even so, the risk of death from a cancer treatment side effect was sill rare — fewer than 1% of the patients died from a treatment-related side effect.
According to the researchers, the results of this study do not necessarily mean that cancer patients should not take a new cancer drug. The benefits of new treatment may outweigh the increased risk of side effects.
It can be very difficult for a patient and doctor to determine how to treat a cancer. Most cancer treatments are toxic in some way, and the risks of treatment must be weighed against the risks of cancer itself. It can be very complicated to determine the risk-benefit profile of a cancer treatment. Whether a new drug is worth its side effects depends on the individual patient.
Do I have a Taxotere Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Taxotere induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with permanent hair loss or baldness, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Dangerous Drug Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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