Taxotere (docetaxel) is a popular chemotherapy drug doctors prescribe to 3 out every 4 breast cancer patients. Like most other taxane drugs, Taxotere is a highly effective cancer treatment. However, it has one glaring side effect that sets it apart from all others. Taxotere can cause permanent, irreversible hair loss for nearly 1 in 12 patients.
This means anyone given Taxotere may never see hair regrowth — even decades later. Many survivors experience psychological, physical and emotional damages every time they face a mirror and see cancer looking back at them.
Others concede that alopecia is a price they’re willing to pay for saving their lives. But Taxol, Taxotere’s closest competitor, does not cause permanent hair loss. In fact, Taxol clinical studies show it’s even more effective than docetaxel for treating the most aggressive breast cancers. But because Taxotere’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, didn’t warn consumers about permanent hair loss risks, they didn’t give informed consent for treatment.
How Permanent Alopecia Affects Breast Cancer Survivors
More than 7,500 Taxotere and docetaxel lawsuits are now consolidated under a multi-district litigation (MDL). The first bellwether trial is set for January 28, 2019. Once that trial concludes, it’ll give remaining plaintiffs an idea of what to expect.
While Sanofi hasn’t yet paid any settlements, Taxotere and docetaxel plaintiffs have made some heartbreaking allegations against the company. Women with docetaxel permanent hair loss share their pain, embarrassment, and isolation in lawsuit filings. But for some, the damage goes much deeper. Some lost relationships or marriages because of it. Others have crippling self-esteem issues. Some battle debilitating depression or anxiety because they’re uncomfortable leaving the house.
Understanding how disfigurement truly affects these women may help others grasp why so many decided to sue.
Taxotere Lawsuits Cite Lost Wages, Failed Marriages Among Plaintiffs’ Damages
Plaintiff Irene A. got cancer in July 2014 and underwent chemotherapy with Taxotere shortly afterwards. Four years later, Irene still suffers from permanent, irreversible alopecia. According to court documents, Irene “endured pain and suffering, has suffered economic loss, and will continue to incur such losses in the future.” Irene didn’t anticipate the mental anguish and serious injury that continue to plague her years into her breast cancer recovery.
Plaintiffs Angela and Chad A. both sued Sanofi. Angela’s allegations include “disfiguring permanent alopecia, mental anguish, and diminished enjoyment of life, economic loss, and loss of economic opportunity.” But Chad, Angela’s husband, also suffered damages from Angela’s injuries. He cites “the loss of companionship, society, services and consortium of his wife.” In other words, Angela’s disfigured appearance played a role in the couple’s marriage falling apart.
Plaintiff Brenda D. had Taxotere chemo for breast cancer in 2008. Her doctor was “not aware, and had not been informed, of any warnings from Defendants (Sanofi-Aventis) that disfiguring permanent alopecia can occur following treatment with docetaxel.” Brenda says she now suffers from permanent disfiguring hair loss.
Karen G.’s filing describes frustration at not being warned about the possibility of lifelong hair loss. “As a direct result of Defendants’ failure to warn patients of the risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia in the United States, thousands of women, including the plaintiff… were deprived of the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether the benefits of using Taxotere over other comparable products was justified.”
Docetaxel Claims Show Alopecia’s Social, Psychological Impacts on Women
Rita S.’s filing describes how her social life changed after docetaxel. “Plaintiffs are stigmatized by the universal cancer signifier — baldness — long after they underwent cancer treatment, and their hair loss acts as a permanent reminder that they are cancer victims. This permanent change has altered Plaintiffs’ self-image, negatively impacted their relationships, and others’ perceptions of them, leading to social isolation and depression even long after fighting cancer.”
Nearly every court filing circles back to the same issue: psychological damage. Psycho-Oncology published a 2008 literature review discussing why that issue’s so prevalent. “Patients described hair loss as traumatizing and distressing,” the review states. “Indeed, it was described as harder than losing a breast.”
Studies also show permanent hair loss can harm survivors’ quality of life. Women say they’ve lost their privacy because alopecia’s visible to everyone. Others say it hurts their self-esteem and social lives. Some women can’t handle going back to work afterwards, so they lose income.
Confirming Cash Settlement Eligibility for Docetaxel or Taxotere-Induced Hair Loss
Many women decide not to sue companies that cause them lasting harm, even with clear-cut cases. Why? Some women are afraid of looking greedy. Others think lawsuits are frivolous. Still, a lawsuit’s the only way to bring Sanofi to justice for knowingly deceiving patients.
Sanofi warned patients in every country except the United States about permanent hair loss risks as early as 2005. Decades-old docetaxel warning labels in Canada and Europe list persistent alopecia as a possible side effect. However, American consumers didn’t know about the issue until December 2015, when the FDA finally stepped in. As a result, thousands experienced this completely avoidable and devastating side effect.
If you or someone you love suffered permanent hair loss from Taxotere or docetaxel, you may qualify for financial compensation. It’s fast, free and easy to confirm your eligibility online. Your free online Taxotere evaluation takes less than two minutes to complete. Once you submit your information, an experienced lawyer will call to discuss your case. It’s the first step towards getting the justice and compensation you deserve!
Related: Studies: Chemo Patients Using Cool Caps Show 78% Less Hair Loss
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.