Taxotere vs Taxol: Which Chemo Drug Is Right For You?

Taxotere vs Taxol

If you were recently diagnosed with cancer, comparing chemotherapy drugs is probably the last thing on your mind. But with so many different treatment options available these days, you really should. We’ll compare two different, yet commonly prescribed drugs belonging to the taxane family: Taxotere vs Taxol. Prior to starting treatment, review the benefits, costs and side effects of Taxotere vs Taxol.

Taxotere vs Taxol: Comparing Drug Costs, Side Effects & FDA Warnings

Taxotere (Generic Name: Docetaxel)

An intravenous chemo drug most commonly prescribed to treat breast cancer as well as other, less common cancers. In addition, Taxotere is also frequently used in a “cocktail” combining multiple drugs for the best disease-free survival outcome.

Cost of Taxotere: Approximately $6500 for six treatment cycles (average for most cancer patients)

Taxotere temporary side effects:

  • Nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle as well as joint pain
  • missed menstrual periods
  • hair loss

Taxotere permanent side effects: Up to 15% of Taxotere patients report persistent alopecia (irreversible hair loss) on the body and scalp.

FDA warnings about Taxotere: In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a warning that Taxotere may cause alcohol intoxication symptoms. The agency said patients should avoid driving, operating machinery, and other potentially dangerous activities 1-2 hours after their Taxotere infusion. In 2015, the FDA updated Taxotere’s label to warn patients about permanent hair loss risks.

Prescription required for Taxotere? Yes

Taxotere lawsuit/settlement history: Erma Spann filed the first Taxotere lawsuit in March 2015. Spann allegedly experienced permanent hair loss after undergoing Taxotere chemotherapy in February 2005. In fact, the plaintiff’s lawyers say Sanofi concealed information about Taxotere permanent hair loss risks. As a result, Sanofi deprived other patients of the ability to make an informed Taxotere chemotherapy treatment decision.

In March 2016, California plaintiff Ami Dodson filed a Taxotere claim making similar allegations to Ms. Spann. Dodson claimed, “Defendants [preyed] on one of the most vulnerable groups of individuals at the most difficult time in their lives… Defendants obtained billions of dollars in increased revenues at the expense of unwary cancer victims simply hoping to survive their condition and return to a normal life.”

Taxol (Generic Name: Paclitaxel)

Primarily prescribed to treat breast, lung as well as ovarian cancers, Taxol belongs to the taxane drug class (along with Taxotere). It is given via intravenous infusion, sometimes in combination with other chemo drugs. In addition, some advanced pancreatic cancer patients may be treated with Taxol infusions.

Taxol cost: Approximately $13,000

Taxol temporary side effects:

  • Low blood counts
  • diarrhea
  • pain in joints as well as muscles
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • mouth sores
  • hypersensitivity reaction
  • swelling in either feet or ankles
  • low blood pressure
  • nail changes
  • hair loss

Taxol permanent side effects: None reported

Taxol FDA warnings: The FDA initially approved Taxol in 1998. Since then, the FDA hasn’t issued any major Taxol drug warnings. However, the agency did revise Taxol’s label in 2010 to include certain possible drug interaction risks. The FDA also noted the possibility of hemotalogic toxicity in patients with AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma. For this reason, the agency suggested physicians monitor anyone belonging to this patient population receiving Taxol.

Prescription required for Taxol? Yes

Taxol lawsuit/settlement history: Taxol’s only potentially long-term side effect is peripheral neuropathy (disclosed on labels and packaging). This condition isn’t fatal, and almost no patients have filed a Taxol lawsuit due to serious side effects.

Taxotere vs Taxol: Why Do Oncologists Recommend One Over the Other?

Of course, many cancer patients seek treatment options that promise the best long-term, disease-free survival rates. During the debate over Taxotere vs Taxol, oncologists may suggest docetaxel for treating metastatic cancer. Acquired drug resistance may also play a role in recommending Taxotere vs Taxol for recurrent or advanced breast cancer cases. For early or non-advanced cancers, studies show that weekly Taxol treatments are cost-effective with equal efficacy to chemotherapy using Taxotere.

What You Can Do

If you or a loved one experienced Taxotere permanent hair loss, you may qualify for financial compensation from the manufacturer. Because Sanofi didn’t disclose information about persistent alopecia risks until December 2015, you may have an eligible claim. Get your free claim evaluation today and an experienced attorney will contact you to help get the justice you deserve.

Related: Scalp-Cooling Chemo Cap May Help Reduce or Prevent Cancer Hair Loss

Mandy Voisin

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.