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Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Sanofi-Aventis, the makers of the popular chemotherapy medication Taxotere. The drug is used to make the chemotherapy experience smoother and help speed the process of recovery. However, many women taking Taxotere during chemotherapy for breast cancer have experienced a troubling side effect – alopecia.

Alopecia is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in permanent hair loss. Plaintiffs involved in the litigation have claimed that they were not warned prior to taking Taxotere that it could cause alopecia. While hair loss is often a common occurrence with chemotherapy, plaintiffs have alleged that Taxotere is far more likely to cause permanent alopecia compared to other equally effective cancer drugs

Taxotere was introduced by Sanofi-Aventis in 1996. It was approved in the U.S. for the treatment of various cancers: breast cancer, advanced stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and metastatic prostate cancer. It wasn’t until late 2015 that a warning was added to the drugs labeling, noting, “Cases of permanent alopecia have been reported.” This potential side effect had been warned about to doctors and patients in Europe as early as 2005. The Canadian warning label for Taxotere had been updated in 2012.

Studies put the risk of permanent alopecia resulting from taking Taxotere is between 6 and 10 percent. With many equally effective chemotherapy drugs on the market proven not to cause permanent hair loss, many plaintiffs are left wondering why they were never warned about Taxotere, or offered the option of alternative drugs.

At Saunders & Walker, we continue to represent patients harmed by dangerous drugs and defective medical devices. For cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy hair loss is often a trauma. Only Taxotere causes permanent hair loss and few patients were told that there were other drugs that worked equally well against cancer but did not have the risk of permanent hair loss.

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