Women diagnosed with breast cancer face incredible obstacles and overcome overwhelming odds on their road to recovery. Among those obstacles is chemotherapy, which notoriously causes patients to lose their hair temporarily. What patients don’t know is that with one specific chemo drug – Taxotere – hair may never return.
In some women, Taxotere kills hair follicles with no way to reverse the damage, resulting in a lifetime of baldness. Even though Taxotere’s manufacturer knew about this for more than 20 years, it was kept from doctors and the public until just six months ago. Our Taxotere attorneys report on how the drugmaker got away with this deception and the stories of breast cancer survivors who now face a lifetime of alopecia.
Doctors started using Taxotere to treat breast cancer in 1996. Ten years later, an oncologist in Denver published the first study linking Taxotere to permanent hair loss. Dr. Sedlacek found that more than 6% of women treated with Taxotere experienced “persistent significant alopecia,” meaning permanent hair loss. Hair loss was especially common among women also treated with the drugs Taxotere with Adriamycin and Cyclophosphaamide.
Decades of Deception
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Taxotere is made by Sanofi-Aventis. This company originally admitted that 3% of women treated with Taxotere would experience permanent hair loss. Sanofi-Aventis decided not to publicize this side effect, so oncologists and patients were unaware the chemo drug could cause this type of physical disfigurement, emotional scarring, and decreased quality of life. As if patients didn’t need to know their hair may not ever grow back after chemotherapy.
After the 2009 study, more and more medical reports proved that many more than 3% of women permanently lost their hair. This is not a minor side effect. Imagine living the rest of your life with dead hair follicles, with a constant reminder of the most difficult time of your life, never able to look in the mirror without thinking of cancer.
One study on Taxotere permanent hair loss stated, “47% of female patients consider hair loss the most traumatic aspect of chemotherapy and 8% declined chemotherapy due to fears of hair loss.” Women with breast cancer often lose their breasts, but this can be remedied with plastic surgery. There’s no reversal of hair follicle death. Some doctors recommend Rogaine or hair transplants, but this is rarely effective. Anyone using Rogaine must put it on every 12 hours for the rest of their life, or their hair will fall out.
FDA Adds Warnings
Although Sanofi-Aventis and scientists knew the drug could cause permanent hair loss, warnings were only just added six months ago. That’s more than 20 years after it came onto market.
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On its website, Sanofi-Aventis write that hair “generally” grows back after chemotherapy. Nobody knows how or why Taxotere kills hair follicles, not even Sanofi. And there is no database tracking how many women actually do suffer this side effect. Who knows how many women are years out of treatment, breast cancer survivors, and still wearing wigs, patiently waiting for their hair to return.
This is what the justice system is designed for – to hold companies like Sanofi-Aventis accountable for purposefully refusing to disclose vital information in pursuit of profits. No other entity, not even the FDA, polices Big Pharma, and they certainly will not police themselves. Litigation is the single best, most efficient and effective way to gain justice for victims, publically expose bad business practices, and punish companies for their unethical, illegal, money-hungry conduct.
Patients’ Bill of Rights
Herceptin is a popular chemo drug that can cause heart damage. All patients undergoing treatment with Herceptin are told of this risk and presented with the choice of proceeding with treatment. Women treated with Taxotere are never given this choice, they are never told of the risks, and many consider this an inexcusable assault on their rights as patients and as private citizens.
Anyone under medical care, whether in a nursing home, hospital or dialysis clinic, are protected under a Patients Bill of Rights. Among your rights, “you have the right to know your treatment options and take part in decisions about your care.”
This right was denied to women treated with Taxotere. Women now facing a lifetime of baldness have started filing lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis for denying them this right. The issue is not about vanity, it’s about honest disclosure, raising awareness, and protecting patient’s rights.
Our Taxotere lawyers are now accepting clients suffering permanent hair loss from Taxotere treatment. We have 30 years of experience fighting Big Pharma and have won millions of dollars for our clients nationwide. If you have any questions about Taxotere or any other dangerous drug, contact us for a free consultation.