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Taxotere Permanent Hair Loss

Permanent hair loss after chemo is a devastating prospect for breast cancer survivors. But dozens of women who took Docetaxel (sold under the brand name Taxotere) as part of their cancer treatment are suffering this disfiguring and emotionally shattering side effect. A number of Docetaxel patients claim that the psychological damage of permanent alopecia is in effect worse than cancer, and increasing numbers of women are pursuing Taxotere lawsuits against manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis. Bald woman suffering from cancer looking throught the hospital window.

Product liability attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh have vast experience advocating on behalf of those who have been misled or harmed by pharmaceutical companies that are more concerned about profits than consumer safety.  Over the past 25 years, our practice has procured just compensation for victims who have suffered complications and health problems caused by defective drugs.

We offer free case evaluations to women who have experienced permanent hair loss after Taxotere.

How common is Taxotere hair loss?

Docetaxel is FDA-approved to treat advanced or metastatic cancer of the breast, neck, head, gastric system, and prostate gland, as well as non-small-cell lung cancers. The product label, up until 2015, stated that “hair generally grows back” once the treatment has been discontinued. While a large number of chemo drugs cause temporary hair loss, the risk of permanent alopecia appears significantly higher in patients taking Taxotere.

  • According to research conducted by Sanofi-Aventis, the risk of permanent baldness with Taxotere usage is roughly 3 percent.
  • However, a respected Denver-based oncologist found that more than 6 percent of his Taxotere patients developed persistent alopecia after taking the drug.
  • Anecdotal evidence and additional chemo research has shown that up to 15 percent of patients can experience permanent hair loss with docetaxel.

Which chemo drugs cause hair loss?

Temporary alopecia, or hair loss, is a common side of radiation and some chemotherapy treatments. Hair loss may become apparent on the scalp, arms, legs, eyebrows and pubic area. Some cancer patients may notice only a thinning or dulling of the hair, while others may see large sections of their hair fall out as their treatments progress. Hair loss related to radiation or chemo treatment is a temporary condition. Not all chemotherapy medications result in alopecia.

The following chemo drugs more likely to result in hair loss:

  • Adriamycin (doxorubicin)
  • Altretamine (Hexalen)
  • Carboplatin (Paraplatin)
  • Cyclophosphamide (Neosar)
  • Cisplatin (Platinol)
  • Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide)
  • Dactinomycin (Cosmegen)
  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Doxil)
  • Epirubicin (Ellence)
  • Etoposide
  • Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
  • Hexamethamelamine (HMM, altretamine)
  • Ifosfmide (Ifex)
  • Idarubicin (Idamycin)
  • Paclitaxel (various brand names)
  • Taxol
  • Vinorelbine (Navelbine, Alocrest)
  • Vincristine (Vincasar, Marqibo)

Taxotere hair loss timing

Oncologists caution that every patient reacts differently to chemotherapy agents that can trigger hair loss. In general, most breast cancer patients given Taxotere alone or in conjunction with a complementary drug can expect hair loss within 2-3 weeks of their first chemo cycle. Some patients report large clumps of hair coming out as early as 13 days after their first session, while others say they notice a thinning of their body hair followed by gradual balding. In order to mitigate the emotional stress of sudden hair loss, some cancer patients opt to shave their heads completely prior to chemo treatment.

Taxotere and permanent hair loss: were patients warned of the risk?

Baldness, especially for women, can be an emotionally crippling experience that affects both confidence and quality of life. Patients who have filed Taxotere lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis argue that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn the medical community and consumers about lasting alopecia risks associated with Docetaxel. Drug manufacturers have a duty to research product safety and caution the public about all possible side effects. When this duty is breached, injured patients may have a valid claim for damages under theories of product liability.

Breast cancer survivors are seeking compensation against Sanofi, claiming the company knowingly concealed research linking the chemo drug to permanent hair loss. Nowhere on the U.S. drug label or product insert is the phrase “permanent alopecia,” yet Sanofi allegedly warned chemo patients about hair loss risks in Europe as early as 2005.

“Permanent alopecia is a disfiguring condition, especially for women,” said one plaintiff in her Taxotere complaint. Sanofi is facing claims of failure to warn, defective design, breach of express warranty and breach of warranty in redhibition in Taxotere litigation filed in court rooms across the country.

Successful litigation can help plaintiffs recoup losses for related medical expenses, lost wages, mental anguish and distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages. Manufacturers that fail to properly warn about drug side effects or engage in misleading marketing may be held liable for the negligent conduct in court.

If you or someone you love has been affected by Taxotere hair loss, we invite you to contact Eisbrouch Marsh for a complimentary legal consultation. Not only do we understand our clients’ pain and emotional distress, we have the skills and experience to fight Big Pharma for maximum compensation. For confidential assistance, please call 201-781-1937.

Taxotere and hair loss: resources

  1. ProductsSanofi, TAXOTERE®
  2. The Telegraph, I survived cancer – but drugs left me with permanent alopecia
  3. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology – Permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia: case report and review of the literature
  4. Annals of Oncology, Permanent scalp alopecia related to breast cancer chemotherapy by sequential fluorouracil/epirubicin/cyclophosphamide (FEC) and docetaxel: a prospective study of 20 patients
  5. 2014 NCRI Cancer Conference, Long Term Hair Loss in Patients with Early Breast Cancer Receiving Docetaxel Chemotherapy