If you’re suffering from cancer, you probably are working hard to have a positive outlook and envision your life post-chemotherapy. One of the most common side-effects of chemotherapy drugs is hair loss, and it can be emotionally devastating to patients. Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug that is prescribed for breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, advanced stomach cancer, head and neck cancer and metastatic prostate cancer. While chemotherapy can carry several side-effects, patients are bringing Taxotere lawsuits because they claim that it has caused irreversible and permanent hair loss. The plaintiffs say that Taxotere patients that permanent hair loss was a risk with this particular drug, and that there are other effective chemotherapy treatments that would not result in permament hair loss.
An argument can be made that patients would opt to be treated with Taxotere regardless of the hair loss implications, as it could be a life-saving drug. However, plaintiffs claim that there is another chemotherapy drug called Taxol that is more effective than Taxotere and it does not result in permanent hair loss. If they had been informed that Taxotere would have this side-effect, they would have had treatment with Taxol, instead.
The Taxotere (generic: docetaxel) side-effects long-term are similar to other chemotherapy drugs. Cancer patients who have used the drug reported bone pain and muscle aches in the arms, legs, neck, back and shoulders. It can also cause tingly or numb sensations in the feet and hands because of nerve damage, or neuropathy. In some cases, patients have experienced peeling or sores on their palms, foot soles or fingertips. While there are definite docetaxel side-effects, long-term issues tend to be less common than immediate reactions. Often, the common side-effects, which include infusion reactions, febrile neutropenia, fatigue and fluid retention, can be resolved in between treatment cycles by modifying the dose. As well, those issues can be reversed when the drug is discontinued in treatment.
While most drugs have side-effects, here are the most common that are associated with Taxotere chemotherapy:
The long-term effects of this treatment include numbness and tingling of the hands and feet and loss of reflexes. However, the manufacturer maintains that it continues to be a safe and effective treatment for several cancers.
Most cancer survivors eagerly anticipate their post-chemotherapy lives when their hair will regrow after treatment. However, breast cancer survivors who were treated with Taxotere chemotherapy allege that their hair follicles were irreparably damaged, which resulted in permanent hair loss (also known as “alopecia”). The claim in the Taxotere lawsuit filings is that not only does Taxotere chemotherapy cause permanent alopecia, but that Sanofi knew and purposely concealed that information from patients and their doctors.
Taxol and Taxotere: Taxol and Taxotere are similar, but they have a different active ingredient. Taxol is paclitaxel, while Taxotere’s active ingredient is docetaxel. They are both in the taxane category of drugs, which means that they are plant-based chemotherapy agents that are intended to inhibit cell division. Research shows that Taxol and Taxotere are comparable with respect to treating breast cancer, but that Taxotere chemotherapy has a higher association with permanent hair loss. Patients involved in lawsuits claim that if they had this information before beginning treatment, they could have opted for Taxol in order to avoid Taxotere permanent hair loss, and they would have had as good a prognosis for survival.
Clinical trials had revealed evidence of Taxotere permanent hair loss as far back as the late 1990s. However, in a 2006 study on about 500 patients, over six percent developed persistent alopecia after having been treated with Taxotere chemotherapy. Further, some of the patients who experienced permanent hair loss had only a single dose of Taxotere, or even a dose that was smaller than the recommended amount.
Your hair, and overall appearance, is important. Many cancer patients suffer emotional distress from the loss of their hair during chemotherapy, but they are encouraged by the belief that it will grow back once they are no longer in treatment. Not only is hair regrowth a positive that patients can look forward to, it also can help them to move on from cancer and resume a normal life. Patients who experience permanent alopecia often suffer social anxiety and depression as a result. If Taxotere permanent hair loss has affected your life, you might wish to consider a Taxotere lawsuit. McIntyre Law can work with you to explore the available options. Contact us today for a free consultation.