A lawsuit filed in California accused the makers of a popular breast cancer chemotherapy drug of hiding side effects, including permanent hair loss, and misrepresenting the drug’s benefits.
Ami Dodson filed a lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis, the makers of the chemotherapy drug, Taxotere (docetaxel), claiming the drug caused her to suffer permanent hair loss (alopecia). Furthermore, she said the drug maker engaged in marketing schemes to drive up the sales of the drug while hiding the medication’s increased toxicity compared to other similar drugs.
Nearly 3 million women have a history of breast cancer in the U.S. Of these women, about 75 percent were prescribed Taxotere.
“Defendants [preyed] on one of the most vulnerable group of individuals at the most difficult time in their lives,” Dodson said in her complaint. “Defendants obtained billions of dollars in increased revenues at the expense of unwary cancer victims simply hoping to survive their condition and return to a normal life.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Taxotere in 1996 and by 2004, it raked in $1.4 billion each year for Sanofi. The drug is approved for use in treating a variety of cancers. In 2004, the FDA approved the drug despite significant toxicity that could cause leukemia and congestive heart failure, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Dodson claims she would not have used Taxotere if she had known it could cause permanent hair loss, especially since other less toxic options were available.
“Permanent baldness (permanent alopecia) is a disfiguring condition, especially for women,” said Dodson. “Women who experienced disfiguring permanent alopecia as a result of the use of Taxotere suffer great mental anguish as well as economic damages, including but not limited to loss of work or inability to work due to significant psychological damage.”
Legal experts claim many more Taxotere lawsuits like Dodson’s will be filed.