The multidistrict litigation (MDL) for popular breast cancer drug Taxotere (docetaxel) is heating up. A federal judge already selected several Taxotere bellwether trials for 2019 over claims that the drug causes irreversible hair loss. To date, more than 1,000 plaintiffs joined the MDL currently scheduled in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. Recently, an unprecedented JPML ruling to include generic docetaxel cancer patients in the current Taxotere MDL allowed even more alopecia victims to join.
Federal Panel Adds Generic Docetaxel to Taxotere MDL
On March 7, 2017, the JPML ruled to extend the Taxotere MDL 2740 to cover victims filing generic docetaxel claims. This groundbreaking ruling makes Taxotere the first known MDL to also include lawsuits filed against the cancer drug’s generic formulation. Most often, a multidistrict litigation only includes claims involving name-brand drugs, not their generic counterparts. That’s because generic versions hit the market years later (usually just after the original branded drug’s patent finally expires). This gives generic drug manufacturers significantly less time to market their alternative versions. As a result, courts almost never hold generic drug makers liable for any subsequent design defects. However, the JPML ruling allows generic docetaxel patients suffering permanent hair loss to centralize their claims under the Taxotere MDL.
Why the JPML Wants Hold Generic Docetaxel Manufacturers Accountable
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration initially approved Taxotere back in 1996 to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer patients. Taxotere’s manufacturer, French drug company Sanofi-Adventis, also sold and marketed docetaxel throughout Europe as well as Canada. Following Taxotere’s initial FDA approval, eight generic docetaxel manufacturers produced some version (including “chemo cocktail” formulations) between 2011 and 2016.
However, all generic docetaxel manufacturers produced and marketed their formulations after researchers published a significant Taxotere permanent hair loss study. The New England Journal of Medicine published Sanofi’s GEICAM 9805 study results in December 2010. While researchers aimed to test Taxotere’s long-term survival rates, they also uncovered a totally unexpected side effect: significant persistent alopecia. In fact, 10% of the five-year Taxotere study’s participants reported permanent hair loss after completing chemotherapy treatment. This permanent hair loss affected all body parts, including the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and other body parts where hair grows.
Despite learning about this emotionally devastating side effect in 2010, Sanofi didn’t update U.S. drug warning labels until December 2015. And the company didn’t add this permanent hair loss warning voluntarily, either — the FDA ultimately forced Sanofi to do it. However, Sanofi began warning Taxotere patients located outside the United States about potential alopecia risks back in 2005. (We should note that competing taxane drugs like Taxol are not linked to the same permanent hair loss side effect.) The Taxotere MDL’s generic docetaxel ruling directly resulted from Sanofi’s five-year “failure to warn” period between 2010 and December 2015. Plaintiffs claim the GEICAM 9805 study results show identical permanent hair loss risks for both Taxotere and generic docetaxel patients. For this reason, generic drug manufacturers are allegedly just as liable as Sanofi Aventis for failing to warn U.S. patients.
What You Can Do
If you suffered permanent hair loss after completing chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere or generic docetaxel, you may qualify for financial compensation. Permanently bald Taxotere patients can get the justice they deserve by filing failure to warn claims against the drug’s manufacturers. Now that the Taxotere MDL’s opened up to include generic docetaxel victims, more plaintiffs may qualify for a cash settlement. To see if your own case may qualify for compensation, fill out your free Taxotere claim evaluation form now. Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced lawyer will contact you to discuss your case.
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.