Like all chemotherapy drugs, hair loss is one of the most common side effects of Taxotere. In 3-6% of patients, baldness is persistent or permanent. The label was updated to include permanent alopecia in December 2015.
Taxotere Lawsuits Centralized in MDL
In October 2016, judges centralized 89 federal Taxotere lawsuits involving permanent hair loss in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2740) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under Judge Lance M. Africk.
Taxotere and Hair Loss
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a live-saving chemotherapy drug that destroys cancer cells. It is used to treat certain cancers of the breast, prostate, lungs, stomach, head, and neck.
Chemotherapy targets all rapidly-dividing cells, including hair follicles as well as cancer cells. The label reassures patients that hair loss is usually temporary: “Once you have completed all your treatments, hair generally grows back.”
According to the manufacturer’s studies, persistent or permanent hair loss occurs in about 3% of patients. Some studies suggest the risk could be as high as 6%, or even higher when Taxotere is combined with other chemotherapy drugs.
In December 2015, the FDA updated the label on Taxotere to include warnings about permanent alopecia. Sanofi-Aventis is accused of failing to adequately warn about the risk.
Hair loss can have a serious impact on quality of life for cancer survivors. The physical, emotional, and financial impact cannot be underestimated. Cancer patients should never avoid chemotherapy over fears of hair loss, but they may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer.