Despite Knowledge of Taxotere’s Damaging Effects, Sanofi-Aventis did not Warn Doctors and Patients Until 2015

Sep 18, 2016 by

During the latter part of the 1990s, study called GEICAM 9805 was sponsored by Sanofi (Sanofi-Aventis is the manufacturer of the chemotherapy drug Taxotere, with generic name Docetaxel). In 2005, results of the study revealed to Sanofi that 9.2 percent of women who used Taxotere suffered permanent alopecia or permanent hair loss).

In 2006, another study revealed that Taxotere use could cause women to suffer permanent alopecia (this study was conducted by Medical Oncologist and Internist Dr. Scot Sedlacek of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers).

Taxotere was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996 for breast cancer treatment. In succeeding years, it also gained approval to treat a variety of cancers including non-small cell lung cancer, prostate cancer, gastric cancer, and head and neck cancer.

Compared to Paclitaxel, another chemotherapy drug that is in the same class as Taxotere (both drugs belong to the class plant alkaloids) the latter gained more preference since its required treatment was once every three weeks as against the weekly treatment required by Paclitaxel (Paclitaxel, though, was said to be just as effective as Taxotere). Paclitaxel, however, did not cause permanent alopecia, the damaging side-effect associated with Taxotere. Permanent alopecia was not the only complaint against Taxotere, though. Some breast cancer patients actually complained of alopecia universalis or total hair loss on the scalp and body; this means total loss of hair on the eyebrows, eyelashes, under arms and around the genital area.

Women affected by the damaging effects caused by Taxotere have now pending lawsuits where they accused Sanofi-Aventis of:

  • Having manufactured and marketed a dangerous drug;
  • Selling Taxotere without testing it properly and exhaustively and without disclosing its damaging risks;
  • Failing to properly warn patients and health care providers about Taxotere’s damaging effects;
  • Concealing information (of Taxotere’s damaging effects) from the public; and,
  • Downplaying the dangers associated with Taxotere.

The law firm Williams Kherkher says that Sanofi-Aventis knew about the side-effect of Taxotere as early as 2005; this is how it was able to warn patients outside of the U.S. about this side effect. Patients in the U.S. were warned of the dangers of using Taxotere only in December of 2015, though, after the (FDA) mandated it to do so.

Every year, 183,000 to 300,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. Tens of thousands have already been treated with Taxotere in the past. Continuous use of this damaging drug can only result to more ruined lives.

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