Tens of thousands of breast cancer patients have filed suit against Sanofi-Aventis, accusing the drug manufacturer of concealing a link between Taxotere, a common chemotherapy medication, and permanent hair loss. Today, most of these lawsuits are consolidated in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, a federal court in New Orleans.
What Multi-District Litigation Means For Taxotere Lawsuits
Under the guidance of Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, the litigation has taken the form of a Multi-District Litigation, in which thousands of similar lawsuits can be gathered together and shepherded through pre-trial proceedings as a group. That promotes efficiency and speed, while encouraging defendants (like Sanofi-Aventis) to consider offering settlements, rather than drawing out protracted trials.
No Settlements Yet
While no Taxotere lawsuit settlements have yet been announced, the possibility of settlement is becoming more and more likely, legal experts say.
Literally tens of thousands of women have filed permanent hair loss claims against Sanofi-Aventis. And Judge Engelhardt has already scheduled a number of cases to serve as “bellwether trials.” These lawsuits will head to trial first; you can think of them as test cases for the wider litigation. After a few verdicts have been rendered, both sides in the dispute – Sanofi-Aventis and breast cancer patients – will have a better understanding of where they stand. In particular, verdicts for plaintiffs could serve as strong motivation for Sanofi-Aventis to begin thinking about settlement, in an effort to avoid further courtroom losses.
Bellwether Trials Begin September 2018
The first Taxotere bellwether trial is scheduled to begin on September 24, 2018. Four more bellwethers have been slated for 2019. It’s still an open question whether we’ll ever see those trials take place. Sanofi-Aventis could, in principle, settle every Taxotere lawsuit tomorrow, although the need for ongoing negotiations, to ensure that each plaintiff is properly compensated, make that unlikely.
The reality of the situation, however, is that, if Sanofi chooses to settle these cases, it could be sooner rather than later. We urge Taxotere patients who have experienced persistent hair loss after ending treatment, but have yet to file a lawsuit, to take action immediately. Reach out to an experienced attorney today to learn more about your legal options. Time may be limited.
Why Are Women Filing Taxotere Claims?
Over a decade of research suggests that Taxotere can leave up to 15% of patients with persistent alopecia, or hair loss. And European labeling for the drug clearly warned against this risk beginning in 2009.
Yet the chemo agent’s American label made no mention of permanent hair loss until 2015, when a quiet labeling revision initiated by Sanofi-Aventis added information on “permanent or irreversible alopecia.” That happened nearly 10 years after Dr. Scot Sedlacek, an oncologist in Colorado, found among his own breast cancer patients that over 6% of Taxotere patients would never regrow their hair.
Taxotere first received FDA approval (after a contentious scientific debate over the drug’s potential dangers) in 2004. Clinical trials performed two years earlier found evidence that between 3% and 9% of patients taking the drug would experience “persistent” hair loss. None of this information, however, was made available to the public until 2015.
Weighing The Benefits & Risks
Even worse, there’s no good evidence that Taxotere is any more effective than its competitor drugs, including the related, but far less toxic, chemotherapy agent called Taxol. Several studies have even found that, despite being half as toxic as Taxotere, Taxol may actually be better at destroying breast cancer cells. And that, according to the women who have filed Taxotere lawsuits, is why Sanofi-Aventis neglected to mention the drug’s connection to permanent hair loss for so long.
To capture the market, plaintiffs argue, the French pharmaceutical company had to make Taxotere appear more attractive than its competitors. The only way to do that, the patients continue, was to lie about the drug’s risks.
Learn More Before Time Runs Out
If you were treated with Taxotere and never regrew your hair, our experienced product liability attorneys can help. HerWarOnCancer.com works with a national alliance of attorneys who are devoted to helping cancer patients and their families find financial compensation. Contact us now and we’ll put you in touch with a qualified lawyer for a free legal consultation. You can learn more about your rights at no charge and no obligation.