By Emily Cox
A recent court filing indicates that more than 850 women have filed Taxotere lawsuits, alleging the controversial breast cancer drug’s manufacturer failed to warn about Taxotere’s permanent hair loss risk, while fraudulently marketing the drug as more effective than other treatments that do not have the same risks.
Parties in the litigation filed the joint status report March 17. The report indicates that there are already at least 857 Taxotere cases pending in the new multidistrict litigation (MDL). There are also additional cases proceeding in California, Missouri, and Delaware state courts.
These Taxotere lawsuits allege that Sanofi S.A. knew and concealed the drug’s permanent hair loss risk from American breast cancer patients. In fact, the company updated its warning labels in Canada and Europe in 2005 and 2012 respectively. Sanofi did not update U.S. warning labels until late 2015. Furthermore, the company actively promoted the high-potency taxane as more effective than other less toxic treatments, such as Taxol, even though research has shown that these less toxic treatments were equally effective and do not cause permanent hair loss. The FDA even had to issue a warning to Sanofi to stop fraudulently marketing Taxotere as being more effective than other treatments.
Hair loss is a known and accepted side effect of chemotherapy. However, plaintiffs claim that Sanofi provided false and misleading information that suggested hair regrows after Taxotere treatments. However, this is not the case for many women.
In October 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all federal Taxotere lawsuits for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt in the Eastern District of Louisiana. This centralization reduces duplicate discovery and conflicting rulings, promoting judicial efficiency. Experts expect that Taxotere lawsuits will number in the several thousands in the coming years.
Judge Engelhardt has scheduled the next status conference for all parties on May 12.