Chemotherapy Drug Linked To Permanent Hair Loss

Taxotere, or docetaxel, is a chemotherapy drug produced by Sanofi and is used by countless breast cancer patients throughout the United States as part of their cancer treatment. The combination of the drug’s effectiveness and convenience – Taxotere only needs to be taken once every three weeks, compared to its once a week competitor paclitaxel – pushed it to be prescribed for the majority of people suffering from breast cancer in the United States. Before losing patent protection of the drug in 2009, Sanofi reportedly made more than $3 billion off or Taxotere sales.

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Despite its effectiveness treating cancer, studies have shown that approximately 9 percent of breast cancer patients who took Taxotere suffered from alopecia, or permanent hair loss that lasted for a decade or longer. Not only did this permanent hair loss cause distress, depression, negative body image, and noticeably decreased the quality of patients’ lives, Sanofi failed to warn patients of the risk and even reportedly hid research linking the side effect to its product.

Hidden Side Effects Caused Permanent Damage to Cancer Patients

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only issued a label change for Taxotere in December of 2015 after years of reports linking the product to permanent hair loss.

  • Sanofi’s own internal study published back in 2005 in the New England Journal of Medicine listed hair loss as a common side effect.
  • The Annals of Oncology published a study in 2012 linking Taxotere to an increased risk of developing permanent hair loss. 20 women were included in the study, and researchers found that people who took docetaxel had a greater risk of developing permanent and severe alopecia that could not be adequately treated through ultraviolet A therapy and spironolactone, psoralen, minoxidil, or vitamins.
  • At the 2014 NCRI Cancer Conference researchers presented their study of long term hair loss’ connection with Taxotere. The team sent out a questionnaire to patients who received docetaxel as part of their treatment, and found that nearly 16 percent of the responders were dealing with significant and persistent alopecia affecting areas ranging from their legs to their eyebrows.

Cancer patients should not be left with a permanent reminder of the life-threatening cancer they fought so desperately to be free of. One breast cancer survivor, only listed as Michelle, told her story on A Head of Our Time, website dedicated to providing support for people struggling with permanent hair loss after receiving cancer treatment. Included in her story is this heartbreaking passage:

“I did not anticipate that years out of treatment I would be left with fine wisps of hair that grew in clumps around my head, but offered no coverage and no relief from the wigs and scarves that I had been wearing during the treatment. The painful reality is that I will forever look like a cancer patient.”

Nearly 3 million people in the United States have a history of breast cancer. While hair loss is a commonly known side effect of chemotherapy, the hair is supposed to grow back once treatment is complete. By hiding this permanently disfiguring side effect from consumers, Sanofi has caused countless cancer survivors undue distress and suffering.

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Contact A Houston Attorney Today

If you are suffering from permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere, you may be able to file a claim to recover damages. Our attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC have dedicated their careers to providing legal assistance to clients in need, and will continue to fight for your rights as long as our doors remain open. Give us a call at (888) 367-7160 to speak with one of our lawyers today, or fill out our online form for a free case evaluation.

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