We’ve touched upon the legal nightmare embarked upon by US chemotherapy patients treated with Taxotere, a drug that was approved by the FDA twenty years ago. And the situation shows no signs of going away.
Initially used in the treatment of breast cancer, Taxotere is now used to treat gastric, neck and prostate cancer in the US.
Unfortunately, one of its side effects in extreme cases can be permanent hair loss at a far greater rate than other equally effective chemotherapy treatments. Even more unfortunately, it wasn’t until December 2015 that any information regarding permanent hair loss was included on the label.
Consequently, Sanofi-Aventis – the makers of Taxotere, which is otherwise known as Docetaxel – have been hit with a steadying-increasing volume of lawsuits in the States, the latest of which came from a woman in Mississippi who claims that she was not warned about the risk of hair loss when she had treatment in 2013.
Her lawsuit mentions that there were no mentions of the terms ‘permanent alopecia’ or ‘permanent hair loss’ in any American documentation for the product, even though overseas literature for Taxotere made mention of the possibility.
Experts are still unsure that the permanent hair loss is completely down to Taxotere or if it’s part of a combination of treatments that are causing the problem – that issue will possibly be settled in court.
The right to know
As we mentioned earlier, when the story first broke, it’s clear that patients are not being fully informed of what they’re letting themselves in for during a critical point in their life.
Even when faced with a situation as awful as cancer, hair loss is still an issue for many people. When there’s a risk that the loss of hair could be permanent, patients have a right to know and investigate an alternative.