The consolidated litigation (MDL No. 2740) now includes over 1200 Taxotere lawsuits, which are pending before Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in the Eastern District of Louisiana, according to an update issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).
Bellwether trials in the federal Taxotere litigation are scheduled to begin in September 2018, according to the Louisiana Record. These trials are common in large, complex litigation, and often involve lawsuits representative of other cases pending in the proceedings. They are intended to gauge the strength of plaintiffs’ claims, and often provide insight into how juries might react to similar questions of fact.
Many patients who undergo chemotherapy experience hair loss. However, these complaints charge that Taxotere-related alopecia is far more likely to be permanent compared to hair loss associated with other, equally effective chemotherapy agents.
Plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that Sanofi-Aventis was aware of research published in the 1990s that suggested 9.2% of Taxotere patients had experienced persistent alopecia for up to 10 years or longer. In 2006, a Denver Oncologist reported that a higher percentage of his Taxotere patients had suffered from hair loss for years after their cancer treatment concluded. Finally, they note that information regarding the potential for Taxotere to cause permanent alopecia was provided to doctors and patients in Europe as early as 2005, while the Canadian label underwent a similar modification in 2012. Yet the U.S. label only included a vaguely worded and insufficient statement that “hair generally grows back.”
Taxotere was brought to market by Sanofi-Aventis in 1996 to treat certain types of breast cancer. It’s approved uses have since been expanded to include several other cancers. However, the U.S. Taxotere label was only updated in December 2015 to note that cases of permanent alopecia had been reported among patients treated with the medication.