Taxotere (docetaxel) is an extremely popular chemotherapy drug used to treat cancer. It’s a popular treatment option for those suffering from breast cancer. In fact, an estimated 75 percent of breast cancer patients in the U.S. use the medication. While it has shown to be an effective medication, many women taking it have experienced permanent hair loss, a condition known as alopecia.
Traditional chemo treatments typically result in a substantial loss of hair. However, many women who took Taxotere are filing lawsuits claiming Sanofi-Aventis, which manufactures the medication, stated that hair loss would be temporary when the opposite is true.
Taxotere and the Risk of Permanent Hair Loss
Traditional chemotherapy typically results in hair loss, but once treatment is finished the patient’s hair will grow back in anywhere from three to six months. While this is obviously a distressing side effect, it is at least temporary. Permanent hair loss, on the other hand, can be devastating – and that is what studies show can occur with Taxotere use.
According to a study funded by the drug maker (known as GEICAM 9805) that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 10 percent of patients taking Taxotere suffered alopecia that lasted a decade or more. Another study, published in the Annals of Oncologyin 2012, showed that 19 of 20 women who took Taxotere not only suffered permanent hair loss, but also the loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. One woman who participated in the study reported that her hair returned after using other methods of chemotherapy, but when she used Taxotere her hair loss was permanent.
Other Potential Side Effects
When a woman is -struggling with fighting breast cancer, an incredible amount of stress is added to an already grueling experience when she also has to suffer from permanent hair loss. However, the addition of other side effects can prove overwhelming. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2012, there have been other side effects linked to Taxotere and other “new generation” chemotherapy drugs. These include:
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Mouth sores
- Nerve damage
- Retention of fluid
Researchers in the study found that patients who were given one of the newer drugs were at a 52 percent higher risk of suffering severe side effects than others who were using traditional chemotherapy medications. They also faced a 40 percent higher risk of death.
How Taxotere Works
While normal cells stop dividing, cancer cells cannot. As a result, cancer can spread throughout the body. Taxotere is similar to other chemotherapy medications in that it is designed to stop cancerous cells from being able to divide and ultimately multiply. When these cells can no longer multiply, they die.
Taxotere is not yet available in pill form, meaning it is only administered intravenously. The drug is chiefly prescribed for breast cancer, but it is also used to treat the following:
- Advanced stomach cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
How Baron & Budd Can Help
Plaintiffs in Taxotere lawsuits are alleging that Sanofi-Aventis failed to warn patients or doctors of the potential for permanent hair loss as well as the fact that the medication has a higher level of toxicity compared to similar drugs. In addition, plaintiffs are claiming the drug maker failed to provide information on how to lower the risk of suffering alopecia.