A form of chemotherapy used to treat breast cancer has been linked to cases of alopecia, or permanent hair loss.

If you or a loved one has undergone chemotherapy treatment to help fight cancer, you may be familiar with the loss of hair that is often a side effect to this aggressive treatment. Until you lose your hair, you may not realize how important it is to you. For most, hair loss is temporary and expected. However, permanent hair loss is not common. Unfortunately a chemotherapy drug called Taxotere has been linked to permanent hair loss in those fighting cancer.

What is Taxotere?

Taxotere is a form of chemotherapy used to treat breast cancer as well as non-small cell lung cancer, gastric cancer, and head/neck cancer. Administered through IV at infusion and oncology centers, Taxotere use has been linked to alopecia, or permanent hair loss. Taxotere is produced by one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Sanofi-Aventis, and derives from a molecule called taxane, which is found in Pacific Yew trees and is useful in preventing cell division.

What’s The Issue With Taxotere?

Chemotherapy is a very powerful treatment that attacks cancer cells. While hair loss is common and some chemo drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, permanent hair loss is not typical. Multiple studies have shown a link between the use of Taxotere for breast cancer treatment and permanent hair loss. A 2012 study found “scalp alopecia,” or permanent hair loss, is a “new and rare cutaneous side effect” of the drug. Furthermore, evidence shows manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis knew about 1) the disfiguring side effect to the drug and 2) an equally-effective alternative medication called Taxol that does not cause permanent hair loss. However, Sanofi-Aventis failed to warn both patients and doctors alike about the potential side effect while incorrectly stating that Taxotere is more efficient than Taxol. The Mayo Clinic indicates it may take several weeks after treatment for hair to begin growing again, and it may event be a different color or texture than it was prior to chemo treatment.

Have People Been Warned About Taxotere?

While the product labels have changed several times, the first time the Taxotere label mentioned the possibility of permanent hair loss was in January 2016. It was then that the FDA acknowledged reports of baldness and permanent hair loss in patients who were treated with Taxotere. Taxotere in both Canada and Europe contained warning labels explaining the possibility of permanent hair loss long before the warning label was issued in the U.S.

While the incidence rate of permanent hair loss from people taking Taxotere is around 10%, many believe this number may be largely underreported, especially by men. Sanofi-Aventis is a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company that should be held accountable for the permanent damage it has inflicted on patients with cancer. Temporary hair loss during or after chemotherapy is typical, however, permanent hair loss is not. If you continue to experience a lack of hair growth after chemotherapy, call The Ruth Law Team for a free and immediate case evaluation. It is important to note the time to pursue a claim is limited, so contact our products liability attorneys today at 1-888-783-8378.