Nevadans who suffered permanent alopecia (hair loss) after taking the chemotherapy drug Taxotere (docetaxel) may be able to sue the drug's maker for negligence. For a decade, women all across America have been taking Taxotere with no forewarning that it may result in them losing their hair forever. These victims may be entitled to sizey compensatory damages for:
It may also be possible to recover punitive damages, which can often be much larger than compensatory damages. And if the victim died from the Taxotere, her family may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Taxotere lawsuits in Nevada, including negligence claims, standards of proof, and statutes of limitations. Click on a topic to jump to that section:
- 1. What can I do if I lost my hair from Taxotere in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. What money can I get?
- 3. Whom can I sue?
- 4. How do I prove a Taxotere claim in Las Vegas, NV?
- 5. When can I sue?
- 6. Should I file my lawsuit in Nevada or join a federal class action?
- 7. What is Taxotere used for?
- 8. Has Taxotere been recalled?
- 9. Resources
- 10. Related "mass tort" drug litigation in Nevada
Patients who permanently lose their hair from taking Taxotere may have a legal cause of action against the drug's manufacturer for negligence. In order to win a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff (victim) needs to demonstrate the following four elements:
- The plaintiff was owed a duty of care by the defendant(s);
- The defendant(s) did not carry out this duty;
- The plaintiff's injury resulted from this breach of duty; and
- Damages resulted from the injury.1
A negligence lawsuit against Taxotere's manufacturer could argue the following:
- The manufacturer neglected to inform doctors and patients that permanent hair loss is a potential side effect of the drug (the manufacturer funded a 2005 safety study that discovered the risk of permanent alocpecia).
- The manufacturer was inaccurate to claim that Taxotere was superior ("super-efficacy") to other taxanes drugs; indeed, Taxotere is more toxic but no more beneficial.
- The FDA, doctors, and patients had refuted the manufacturer's assertions that the drug was more beneficial than other taxanes drugs, and the manufacturer hid evidence of their refutations;
- The manufacturer marketed the drug for off-label purposes (a former employee of the manufacturer claimed that the manufacturer paid kickbacks to doctors for prescribing Taxotere for off-label purposes).
- The manufacturer sought billions in sales through misbranding, deception, inadequate premarket testing, and false claims unsupported by science.
Therefore, these breaches of duty caused patients to make an uninformed decision to take the drug, which in turn caused them permanent hair loss. Had the manufacturer given a proper warning and instructions, the physician instead would have prescribed Taxol, which does not cause hair loss.
About nine (9) percent of Taxotere users suffer permanent alopecia, which is the medical term for hair loss. The hair loss may be total or partial (where some strands grow in patches). With many other chemotherapy drugs, hair loss is only temporary. Permanent hair loss can seem disfiguring and cause serious emotional distress for some patients.
Other potential side effects are:
- weight gain,
- tingling or numbness of the hands or feet
- pain in joints and muscles
- swelling of the hands, feet, or legs
- less urine
- irregular heartbeat
- stomach pain
The drug can also cause the rare put possibly fatal condition neutropenic enterocolitis; this when the pouch in the large intestine gets inflamed.2
It may be possible to recover the following compensatory damages in a Taxotere lawsuit:
- Medical bills related to the drug injuries (such as for alopecia treatments),
- Pain and suffering arising from the drug injuries,
- Lost wages and future earnings (if the hair loss negatively affected the plaintiff's livelihood), and/or
- Punitive damages (if applicable)
While hair loss may sound like a purely cosmetic issue, it can gravely impact the patient's body image and quality of life, which in turn affects the patient's survival. Even if the cancer goes into remission, victims with alopecia may feel like lifelong cancer patients. Permanent alopecia may lead to severe psychological distress, mental anguish, and clinical depression.
Note that if a patient dies from the drug, her family may be able to bring a wrongful death suit. The defendant may be on the hook to pay not only for funeral expenses but also the pain and suffering of both the patient and the family.
Taxotere victims may be able to sue the manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis. Sanofi is a global pharmaceutical company, and it sells the drug in North America and Europe.
Typical evidence that plaintiffs produce include:
- Medical records, showing that the plaintiff has suffered permanent hair loss;
- Expert medical testimony, making the link from the plaintiff's use of the drug to his/her hair loss
- Marketing materials that do not list permanent hair loss as a possible side effect
In order to win a Nevada negligence case, the plaintiff has the burden to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" that the defendant committed negligence. This means that the plaintiff needs to show that it is "more likely than not" that the defendant was negligent. Learn more about proving negligence in Nevada.
Victims have two (2) years after they suffer hair loss from Taxotere to sue for negligence. But even if that time period has passed, Nevada victims are encouraged to consult with a Las Vegas personal injury attorney to see if they still may be eligible to file suit.3
Patients who sue for drug-induced hair loss probably will not take part in a class action but rather a multi-district litigation (MDL). MDLs temporarily join all similar lawsuits together so the court can decide preliminary matters for all of them. Then if the cases are not settled by then, the cases can return to their original courts and proceed as individual lawsuits.
Currently, there is a Taxotere MDL out of the Eastern District of Louisiana called IN RE: Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation (MDL - 2740). Seven of the cases in the MDL are scheduled to go to to trial in 2019; these "bellwether" cases will help both sides determine the strengths of the arguments and will hopefully encourage a settlement while the cases are still part of the MDL.4
FDA approved in 2006 to treat breast cancer, Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug that is administered via intravenous infusion. Doctors can also prescribe it to help fight:
- stomach cancer (in advanced stages)
- metastatic prostate cancer
- non-small cell lung cancer, and
- head and neck cancer
Doctors typically use this drug in combination with other drugs, but it can be used alone. It is an anti-mitotic agent (stops cells from dividing). Doctors usually administer this drug once a month for an hour.5
Taxotere's class of drugs is "taxanes", which are formulated in part from yew trees (the genus Taxus). And similar to other chemo treatments, Taxotere attacks both healthy and diseased cells.
No. Though the FDA in 2015 required Taxotere to bear a warning label that discloses the risk of permanent hair loss. And back in 2009, the FDA warned the manufacturer to cease making misleading assertions about the drug's effectiveness as compared to other taxanes drugs.6
To learn more about Taxotere and hair loss from chemotherapy, see:
- FDA Taxotere information
- Supportive Care in Cancer - article on post-infusion scalp cooling
- Breast Cancer Research and Treatment - article on hair loss
Drugs have different effects on different people. Unfortunately, some people do not respond well or endure horrific side effects. For more information on how to pursue a lawsuit in Nevada against a drug company, refer to our informational articles:
- Xarelto lawsuits in Nevada
- Abilify lawsuits in Nevada
- Viberzi lawsuits in Nevada
- Testosterone lawsuits in Nevada
- Invokana lawsuits in Nevada
- Talc lawsuits in Nevada
- Opioid lawsuits in Nevada
- Risperdal lawsuits in Nevada
- Concerta lawsuits in Nevada
Call a Nevada personal injury attorney...
Have you suffered permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere in Nevada? Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys will fight to win you a substantial financial settlement. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. We operate on a contingency fee basis, so you pay us nothing unless we win your case.
- See, e.g. Scialabba v. Brandise Const. Co., 112 Nev. 965, 921 P.2d 928 (1996).
- FDA Taxotere information; Miteva M, Misciali C, Fanti PA, Vincenzi C, Romanelli P, Tosti A., Permanent alopecia after systemic chemotherapy: a clinicopathological study of 10 cases, American Journal of Dermatopathology (June, 2011)(evidence shows that Taxotere can cause dose-dependent permanent hair loss); N. Kluger, W. Jacot,, E. Frouin, V. Rigau, S. Poujol, O. Dereure, B. Guillot, G. Romieu & D. Bessis, Permanent scalp alopecia related to breast cancer chemotherapy by sequential fluorouracil/epirubicin/ cyclophosphamide (FEC) and docetaxel: a prospective study of 20 patients, Annals of Oncology (May, 2012)(between 2007 and 2011, 20 breast cancer patients treated with taxotere developed permanent hair loss); note that patients in Canada and Europe did receive warnings about permanent hair loss.
- Case Management Order No. 6 [Setting Four Bellwether Trial Dates in 2019].
- NRS 11.190.
- Taxotere official site.
- See FDA Taxotere information; Jim Edwards, FDA Cites Sanofi for Misleading Cancer Drug Promotion, CBSNews (May 15, 2009).