For women who suffered permanent hair loss after undergoing cancer treatment, many questions were left unanswered by the manufacturer of the popular breast cancer drug, Taxotere. Luckily, federal court lawsuits filed against the company are making progress, and four bellwether trials have been scheduled.
Federal court Taxotere lawsuits have been centralized in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The lawsuits allege Taxotere’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, knew about the permanent hair loss risk, but failed to warn patients and doctors.
The labels for Taxotere in several other countries were updated in recent years to include information about the permanent hair loss risk, but the company’s U.S. arm decided not to update labels.
Studies have shown Taxotere can cause permanent hair loss, called alopecia, in approximately 9% of patients. However, there are safer and equally effective alternative treatments available. Many plaintiffs in the consolidated litigation state that had they known about the permanent hair loss risk, they would have sought alternative treatment options.
Women who suffered permanent hair loss after being treated with Taxotere are seeking to hold Sanofi-Aventis responsible. While several settlement conferences are scheduled throughout the next year, the court overseeing the litigation has also scheduled four bellwether trials beginning in 2019. The bellwether trials will be begin on:
- January 28, 2019
- April 8, 2019
- July 15, 2019
- November 4, 2019
While the first trial is over a year away, Sanofi-Aventis is likely considering its options very closely. There are already hundreds of lawsuits in the MDL and the number is expected to continue growing. The company will have to decide if pursuing each case in court is the best option, or if they should agree to a settlement.