Consumer Alert Now - (Dangerous Drugs) Hair loss/Taxotere
Breast cancer survivors are coming forward to allege the many psychological and physical effects they are experiencing due to chemotherapy drugs. These survivors are claiming that Taxotere, a chemotherapy drug that is widely used because of the convenience of fewer hospital visits is causing permanent hair loss - a side effect that was withheld by the manufacturer. If you are a cancer survivor suffering permanent hair loss because of the drug, reach out to us at Consumer Alert Now. We help breast cancer survivors suffering from Alopecia to file mass tort lawsuits against the manufacturer for pain and suffering endured. Also, we help victims understand the purpose of the drug, its side effects, and how to join a mass tort.
Overview of Taxotere
In 1999, Sanofi-Aventis, a company that manufactures and sells drugs in the U.S., produced and sold a drug called Taxotere. The drug is used to treat various types of cancer, but it is mainly used by breast, head, neck, stomach, and prostate cancer patients. Patients and medical practitioners prefer this chemotherapy drug over other drugs because of its convenience. While those using Paclitaxel and other chemotherapy drugs visit the hospital every week, patients using Taxotere go for treatment after every three weeks.
Although the drug has its benefits, the manufacturer failed to inform patients about the effects of the drug. Chemotherapy leaves the majority of patients with hair loss, but after treatment is over, the hair starts to grow back. With Taxotere, however, you might suffer from Alopecia, which is a condition of permanent hair loss.
Sanofi-Aventis in 2005 new about these side effects after a study conducted in the late 90s showed that 9.2% of women who used the drug suffered permanent hair loss. The company failed to inform consumers in the United States and only warned those outside the U.S to protect sales.
In 2015, after the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) warned Sanofi-Aventis of these side effects, the company updated its safety information page, creating awareness of these side effects of the drug. Before this, the only side effects that were listed in the warning include the following:
- Fluid retention
- Low white blood cell count
- Toxic death
- Liver damage
- Hypertension reaction
Other side effects cancer patients experience include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Muscle and joint pain, pain, discoloration, or swelling at the injection site
- Hair loss
- Damage of finger and toenails
After Sanofi received a warning of the very crucial side effect of the drug they had withheld, they decided to update the warning label and include Alopecia or permanent hair loss as a side effect.
Symptoms of Alopecia
In case you used Taxotere for your cancer treatment, below are the signs you will notice if you suffer Alopecia:
- Lack of eyelashes
- Missing eyebrows
- Lack of hair anywhere in the body (underarms and pubic hair)
The Adverse Effects of The Alopecia
The majority of breast cancer patients in the U.S. are women. Temporary loss of body weight and hair loss lowers their self-confidence. What’s worse is that, after these patients use Taxotere, some of them have to deal with low self-esteem for the rest of their lives because the hair will not grow back. The adverse effects of Alopecia include:
- Emotional distress
- Inability to return to work
- Social anxiety
- Poor quality of life
- Lowered body image
If you were treated using Taxotere and you are undergoing all the pain and suffering, it is wise that you sue the manufacturer of this drug for compensation.
Lawsuits that have been Filed Against Taxotere Drug or Its Sanofi-Aventis
The reason Sanofi-Aventis withheld from its customers that the drug had dangerous side effects is to increase sales. Therefore, it is possible to file a dangerous drug lawsuit against the manufacturer for failing to update the safety information page on the dangers of these drugs. Some of the lawsuits against the manufacturer of this dangerous drug allege that:
- Sanofi-Aventis sold the drug without conducting proper tests
- They concealed the dangers or the adverse side effects of the drug when selling
- They failed to confirm the safety of Taxotere before commencing distribution
- They produced a dangerous drug
- Sanofi-Aventis withheld information from the general public
- The company assumed the dangers of the drug
- Manufacturing defects
- They breached express and implied warranties
Compensation of Victims of Taxotere’s Side Effects
The above lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis are by victims who seek compensatory damages due to the defective drug from the company. These damages aim at providing financial compensation for the losses these victims have suffered. These losses include the following:
- Medical expenses involved in diagnosing and treating Alopecia in the victim
- Professional repercussions from the injuries sustained by the victim or lost wages
- Physical pain and mental suffering associated with Alopecia
Victims of this drug suffer because Alopecia acts as a constant reminder of their cancer and the pain and suffering they have gone through during treatment. That’s why these victims must get compensated. Aside from this, the victims pursue punitive damages so that Sanofi-Aventis can suffer the consequences of withholding crucial information about permanent hair loss as a side effect of their chemotherapy drug.
California Products Liability Laws
These laws make it clear that individuals who design, produce, and distribute defective products will be held responsible for the harm or injuries caused by the products even if the person or company was not negligent. The strict liability laws are imposed on products that have inadequate warnings, design defects, or manufacturing defects. Every type of liability claim requires a certain amount of proof. For the plaintiff to win a product liability claim, he or she must prove the following elements:
- The defendant designed, produced, sold, or distributed a defective drug,
- By the time the product left the defendant's possession, it had defects,
- The plaintiff used the product in a reasonably foreseeable way, or
- The plaintiff suffered harm due to the flaws of the product.
Sanofi-Aventis designed, manufactured, and distributed a chemotherapy drug that didn’t contain sufficient warning. Therefore, according to California law, they are strictly liable for any harm that results from the product when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to foresee the possible use and misuse of a product they are distributing in the market, especially if it is a dangerous drug to try and minimize the harm or injuries. It is not possible to eliminate all the danger, but a company should always try and reduce the risk; otherwise, they might be held strictly liable if harm is caused to the consumers. Specific precautions can be taken to ensure that proper procedures are adhered to during designing and production. Also, they can provide consumers with adequate warnings or information about the side effects of the product.
The defendant, in these cases, can use certain defenses when being faced with product liability suits. These defenses include:
- The defendant didn’t design, produce, distribute, or sell the dangerous drug or product
- The product was not defective
- The product was not defective at the time it left the defendant's possession
- Another person altered with the product negligently
- The plaintiff used the product in a manner that was not reasonably foreseeable
- The plaintiff did not show any injuries
- Another person cause harm or damages
- It was the plaintiff’s negligence that caused the injuries
A tort is defined as a civil wrong committed by an individual or company that causes injury to another person. A mass tort, on the other hand, is referred to as a civil action created by many plaintiffs who have suffered similar injuries suing one or several jointly acting corporate defendants who developed the defective product that caused the injuries. In this type of lawsuit, the word mass has two meanings. The first meaning of mass is when many plaintiffs take part in the same tort litigation. The second meaning of mass is when the media is used to recruit more people who have suffered injuries from a defective product to join tort litigation.
Mass tort litigation often is created after many suffer harm or injuries after consuming defective products like Taxotere. The lawsuits are launched to enable several victims to sue the corporate defendant for contributing to the pain and suffering they are undergoing.
Efficiency and Economies of Scale of Mass Torts
These types of suits promote much effectiveness in the justice system. The reason being all the cases involving similar injuries of products are moved to one judge to make the process more coordinated. That way, inconsistent rulings from different judges are avoided in cases involving the same claims. When collective claims are heard together, the plaintiffs and the court save resources in the litigation process due to economies of scale.
The Procedure for Creating a Mass Tort
Mass tort cases differ, but most proceedings follow the following procedure:
- The plaintiff files the first complaint, and all the other required documents.
- The plaintiff files a motion to consolidate or put together a lawsuit.
The state and federal courts have guidelines on how a mass tort should be created. The plaintiffs’ attorney must petition the court to put together or create a pool of similar lawsuits for a unified proceeding. These lawsuits are called multidistrict litigations.
- Status conference
The process of a mass tort commences with a Case Management Conference where those involved keep the court up to date with the developments of litigation.
- Petitions or motions
In this stage, the plaintiff and the defendant are required to share information such as the facts of the case and crucial documents.
- Bellwether trials
It is a program where small cases or lawsuits are heard by juries. The outcomes for these cases are not binding to those other lawsuits that haven’t been heard, but they give parties involved an in-depth insight into what might be the outcome for different cases.
- Settlement negotiations
Understanding Multidistrict Litigation in Mass Tort Cases
MDL is the process of consolidating mass tort cases and product liability cases to form a single federal district court pretrial proceeding. Claims that are eligible for multidistrict litigation include those where:
- The plaintiff and the defendant come from different states, and the damages involved are $75,000 or more, and
- The cases implicate federal law.
Some of the cases that are frequently consolidated include those involving:
- A plane crash with hundreds of victims,
- A defective product being sold to thousands of consumers and now the side effects or harm of the product is being experienced, or
- A defective drug is designed, produced, and advertised.
Problems being resolved by multidistrict litigation
If cases were not to be consolidated together:
- The courts would have to hear several cases that are all similar which will consume much time and resources thus further straining the justice system
- Each plaintiff would have to hire their lawyer increasing legal costs and lowering the amount of compensation each plaintiff was to get
- The defendant would have to hire attorneys for all courts where a case has been filed
- Similar pieces of physical discovery would be required for each court hearing
- Testimony would have to be delivered in each court which means witnesses would keep moving from one court to another repeating the same evidence which can cause a conflict of statements
- Potential of judgment contradiction because different judges are being used for similar cases
During the pretrial proceedings:
- Evidence is gathered
- There is a petition to dismiss the case
- There are petitions for summary judgment
- Evidentiary challenges
- Settlement offers
In case an agreement is not reached in the pretrial, the claim goes back to the district court where it originated. The court will consider some of the following factors before agreeing to your request:
- The number of plaintiffs involved. In this factor, the lawyer must demonstrate the case will include many people even if they don’t have the numbers at the moment
- The geographical location of the plaintiffs
- The plaintiffs suffered similar injuries or harm
- The injuries can be attributed to a common cause such as Taxotere or a single traumatic event
If a mass tort is created or if the court agrees to its creation, a judge is assigned the case, and a notice is sent to the mass media for publishing. The announcement is published so that other victims of the same product or traumatic event can join the lawsuit if they are willing.
Factors that Influence the Length of Mass Tort Litigation
The length of mass tort litigation will vary depending on the following factors:
- Expert witnesses
These types of lawsuits require expert witnesses like pharmaceutical company researchers, doctors, and other professionals. The time it takes to locate and depose these experts dictates the length of the case.
- Need to Travel
Attorneys and those in charge of investigating the case will have to travel from one place to another to talk to witnesses and dispose of them while gathering discovery for the claim. The time taken is what determines the duration of the litigation.
- Evidence collection and organization
It will not take days to go collect medical records of patients, analyze and organize. It can go up to months, which makes these cases last longer.
Similarities and Differences between a Mass Tort and Class Action
These two are collective actions that have certain similarities when it comes to the procedural step. The similarities include:
- Several plaintiffs who have suffered harm.
- Common defendants are involved in the manufacture of the defective product or traumatic event that led to harm or injuries.
- The lawsuit is consolidated into a collective action instead of separate individual actions.
Apart from these similarities, these two actions have fundamental differences. These differences include:
- In a mass tort action, plaintiffs are considered individually because every plaintiff gets a separate trial depending on the nature and extent of the damages, while in a class action, the plaintiffs are not considered separately. Instead, they are considered collectively as a class that is under one representative. The whole class is deemed as one plaintiff with one trial, but one can choose to opt-out.
- In most cases, the number of plaintiffs in mass tort is smaller than those in class actions, which are always a large group.
Advantages of Mass Tort Action
- Much investigation and preparation are done in these cases.
- There is increased efficiency and time saving because attorneys use the same information for several plaintiffs.
- Plaintiffs are considered individually with each getting a separate day in court as opposed to all the plaintiffs being deemed to have suffered injuries of the same nature and extent.
The Criteria Prospective or Potential Plaintiffs must Meet to Create a Strong Case
- Statute of Limitations.
The potential plaintiff must be very time conscious at the time of filing a lawsuit. Talk to your attorney and find out about the statute of limitations in your state so that you can submit the case on time. If the period stipulated is expired, you cannot file a claim.
- Generic Drug Lawsuits
It is tough to pursue manufacturers of generic drugs. All the two cases that have been brought before the United States Supreme Court have all been ruled in favor of the generic drug manufacturer. The reason being the federal law requires that manufacturers copy the brand name of the drug. Even if the design was defective, they could not be held responsible.
- Pre Existing conditions
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you must inform your legal representative because if you fail to disclose this and it comes up later in the case, chances of losing the case are high.
California Statute of Limitations
The amount of time someone or a plaintiff should wait before filing a claim against a company or individual for failure to warn is stated in the Statute of Limitations. If the time provided in the statute is exceeded, then the person has no legal right to sue again. In the case of Sanofi-Aventis failing to warn customers about Taxotere causing permanent hair loss, victims in California have a duration of two years from the time of injury to file a lawsuit.
However, since specific injuries like those of dangerous drugs do take a more extended period before they can be discovered, the limitation period can be extended up to one year after the damage has been found. They start counting the time when an individual knows they have suffered harm and the nature or extent of the injury. The exceptions of the statute of limitations include:
- The plaintiff was not aware of the fact that they could have suffered injuries because of inadequate warning,
- An investigation could not have proven that the warning defects could have caused the injuries because they were minors at the time they occurred, or
- The plaintiff was underage, mentally incompetent, or out of his or her state when the injuries occurred.
Reporting Medication Side Effects
The majority of the victims who were using Taxotere might have noted some of the side effects but did not know how to report the issue. You should report to the FDA through MedWatch Voluntary Reporting Online Form if you find severe errors in medical devices or experience severe side effects from:
- Prescription or over the counter drugs
- Medication administered in a hospital
- Combination of products
- Food and beverages
Other portals that can be used to report are the Safety Reporting Portal (SRP) and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
Join a Mass Tort Near Me
If you notice permanent hair loss after using Taxotere for chemotherapy, Consumer Alert Now is here to help. We have the experience and resources that prospective plaintiffs need to take on large Pharmaceutical companies for designing, producing, and selling defective drugs. Call 800-511-0747 to speak to our legal staff for a no-obligation consultation. We will answer all your questions and help you navigate the complicated legal process for optimum compensation at the end of the lawsuit.