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Taxotere Lawsuit Filed after Female Plaintiff Suffers Permanent Hair Loss

taxotere packageA Texas woman has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug Taxotere, alleging the chemotherapy drug left her with permanent baldness.

The lawsuit is just one of a growing number of claims filed by women who argue that the manufacturer of the drug failed to warn of the risk of permanent alopecia when it marketed its product to breast cancer patients.

Permanent hair loss after Taxotere

Alina S. Gorniak filed her lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. In her complaint, Gorniak states she was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the left breast on January 28, 2013. On February 18 of that same year, Gorniak was administered her first dose of the chemotherapy drug Taxotere. She proceeded to undergo a cycle of six Taxotere treatments, which ended in June 2013.

Taxotere is a potent chemotherapy drug manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. The drug was approved by the FDA in 1996 to be used as a breast cancer treatment. The drug was touted by Sanofi-Aventis as a more effective cancer treatment than other taxane-based drugs with a lower potency. However, Gorniak and other plaintiffs that have filed lawsuits are claiming that Taxotere is no more effective than other chemotherapy drugs introduced to the market prior to Taxotere’s arrival. Plaintiffs are also alleging the Taxotere, unlike other chemotherapy drugs in this category, can lead to permanent hair loss.

In her complaint, the plaintiff contends that when she completed her sixth round of chemotherapy, she suffered from permanently disfiguring alopecia. The plaintiff also states the side effects suffered from the drug have caused her “severe and debilitating emotional distress,” and “impairment of the quality and enjoyment of life.”

Company allegedly knew of alopecia risk

Gorniak also points out that Sanofi-Aventis knew of the risk of permanent hair loss years before the problem came to light in recent lawsuits. She highlights a 2005 study conducted by Sanofi-Aventis that found 9.2 percent of the patients that took Taxotere suffered from hair loss that lasted 10 years or longer. She also notes that in 2006, an oncologist in Denver alerted the company to the fact that more than six percent of his patients taking Taxotere suffered from long-term or permanent hair loss.

Two smaller studies published in 2011 also looked at the link between Taxotere use and permanent hair loss. One of those studies, which was published in the Annals of Oncology, found that permanent and severe alopecia is a newly reported complication of Taxotere use. The other study, published in the American Journal of Dermatopathology, also found chemotherapy drugs containing taxanes could contribute to permanent hair loss.

In her Taxotere lawsuit, Gorniak has listed a number of counts against Sanofi-Aventis, including product liability, fraud and deceit, and breach of warranty. She also cites counts of violation of Texas consumer protection laws and outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant.

Gorniak states that in addition to the physical and mental anguish caused by permanent loss of hair, she has been unable to maintain a job due to the psychological stress of her condition. She is seeking damages to compensate for past and future medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and past, present and future physical and mental pain.

  1. Annals of Oncology, Permanent Scalp Alopecia Related to Breast Cancer Chemotherap by Sequential Fluorouracil/Epirubicin/Cyclophosphamide and Docataxel,

  2. US National Library of Medicine, Permanent Alopecia after Systemic Chemotherapy: A Clinicopathological Study of 10 Cases,

  3. FDA, Taxotere (Docetaxel) Injection Concentrate,