Most patients expect to lose some hair (if not all) during chemotherapy treatment. But reasonably, most people also believe it will grow back afterwards. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case — particularly if your chemo regimen includes Taxotere. Chemo permanent hair loss is only linked to this specific and very popular breast cancer drug (known generically as docetaxel). And it appears that Taxotere’s manufacturer, French drug giant Sanofi-Aventis, specifically failed to warn U.S. patients about this possibility. Yet the company clearly warned patients in other countries about this possible side effect risk. Why were American breast cancer patients treated differently?
Since they couldn’t give informed consent, thousands of U.S. patients with chemo permanent hair loss are now suing. However, only a percentage of patients are affected and therefore eligible to join the current class-action lawsuit. If you aren’t sure whether you may have an eligible claim, we hope this article can clear up any confusion for you. And since chemo permanent hair loss affects each person differently, we’ll explain what to expect and when below.
When Does Chemotherapy Hair Loss Typically Begin?
Chemo-induced hair loss typically happens within two weeks of starting treatment. From there, it worsens for a month or two until completing chemotherapy. And even afterwards, hair regrowth can take a while to become noticeable again. This is because chemo drugs can linger in the body, attacking otherwise-healthy dividing cells.
For most breast cancer patients, though, real hair starts to grow back within 1-2 months after their last infusion. Some see fuzzy patches appear a few weeks after completing treatment. By six months, you’re likely to see 2-3 inches of scalp hair regrowth. Within one year, scalp hair regrowth usually reaches 4-6 inches. It can take years for those with longer hairstyles to fully recover. But Taxotere patients may have a different recovery timeline — because up to 15% may experience chemo permanent hair loss.
What Defines Chemo Permanent Hair Loss Specifically Caused By Taxotere Treatments?
People may think only a completely smooth bald scalp, similar to alopecia areata, counts as chemo permanent hair loss. But in reality, chemo permanent hair loss from Taxotere treatments can take various forms, including:
- Patchy or incomplete hair regrowth. Chemo permanent hair loss can affect individual spots on your scalp only, not your entire head. In addition, hair may grow back significantly thinner in certain areas that will never fully recover.
- Scalp hair regrows, but other areas remain thin/balding. Chemo permanent hair loss can affect various specific body parts, not just the scalp area. If your hair grows back everywhere except your eyebrows and eyelashes, for example, you still have chemo permanent hair loss.
- Hair regrowth isn’t visible in any expected areas more than six full months after completing cancer treatment. When hair falls out in patches or becomes visibly thinner during chemo, you may expect a reversal after completing treatment. But in reality, chemo permanent hair loss means what you see during treatment will still be visible a decade later. If your hair doesn’t show typical growth pattern signs seven months after completing treatment, it’s likely chemo permanent hair loss.
Do You Have a Claim?
The words “permanent” and “alopecia” mean different things to different people. Some hair growth won’t disqualify you from filing a Taxotere injury claim. If you don’t see significant hair regrowth for at least six months after completing chemo, you may qualify for compensation. Most cancer patients prescribed competitor chemotherapy drugs like Taxol eventually see full hair regrowth. Within a year, most Taxol patients see scalp hair grow up to 4-6 inches long, plus eyelashes and eyebrows return. But for 10-15% of Taxotere patients, “Long term significant scalp alopecia” means how they look during chemotherapy lasts for life.
Scalp hair loss is likely the most emotionally devastating chemotherapy side effect. But losing your eyebrows, eyelashes or arm hair permanently can also negatively affect your recovery process. If you have persistent hair loss on any body part for six months, you may qualify for a cash settlement. While compensation cannot completely reverse chemo permanent hair loss, it will hold the drug’s manufacturer accountable for failure to warn.
Can A Chemo Permanent Hair Loss Claim Make Cancer Drugs More Expensive?
Some emotionally devastated patients with chemo permanent hair loss may feel uneasy about filing a Taxotere claim. You may believe that seeking financial compensation could prevent companies from developing new life-saving cancer drugs in the future. But every major pharmaceutical manufacturer builds product liability and injury litigation costs into their annual budgets exactly for this purpose. You can still receive a generous settlement without putting cancer drug manufacturers out of business, including Sanofi-Aventis. Settlements also won’t make the drugs scarce or more expensive, especially with such high profit margins on U.S. patients.
Look at it this way: Sanofi warned breast cancer patients in Canada and Europe that their hair might never grow back. And recently, a federal judicial panel made a strikingly unusual ruling about the Taxotere MDL allowing generic docetaxel patients to sue Sanofi, too. Generic drug lawsuits are virtually unheard of in the U.S., especially at the class-action level (like the Taxotere MDL). Right now, legal representation on both sides are holding settlement conferences, hoping to avoid trial. There’s never been a better time to get your claim reviewed and join the class in time to receive a cash settlement before it’s reached. Wait too long, and you may disqualify yourself from an individual claim as well as participating in any class-action settlement payments.
How to Check Your Eligibility for Compensation Online
If you or someone you love suffered Taxotere permanent hair loss after chemotherapy, you may qualify for a cash settlement. Sanofi listed permanent hair loss as a possible risk on Taxotere’s label in every country — except the United States. As a result, American breast cancer patients are filing failure to warn claims against the French drug manufacturer.
To see within minutes if you may qualify for compensation, complete your free hair loss claim review today. Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced lawyer will call to arrange a confidential, in-person consultation to discuss compensation options.
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.