While using Taxotere, Ami Dodson developed a life-changing permanent hair loss condition. Known as alopecia, the entire body, including the eyebrows, begins to bald.
"Although alopecia, or hair loss, is a common side effect related to chemotherapy drugs, permanent alopecia is not," according to court documents.
The lawsuit brings attention to the drug's history and unearths a decades-old scandal, which suggests the pharmaceutical manufacturer may have known about the risk of alopecia.
What is Taxotere?
Taxotere is a top-tier chemotherapy drug mainly used to treat breast cancer. Also known as docetaxel, Taxotere can also treat lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, and head/neck cancer.
The FDA approved Taxotere in 1995 for metastatic breast cancer, though it has since become one of the most widely used cancer treatments. Originally approved after an industry-sponsored study known as GEICAM, Taxotere has been surrounded by controversy.
Years after Taxotere had been released to the market, the study showed that nearly 10 percent of patients experienced hair loss that lasted a minimum of 10 years. The manufacturer, a French pharmaceutical company called Sanofi-Aventis, chose not to disclose the risk of the side effect to future patients.
The Dodson Lawsuit
Dodson's legal actions have raised questions about the overall safety of the drug, urging others to see if Taxotere treatments have led to permanent hair loss issues. Dodson is also seeking compensation for her injuries.
According to legal documents, Dodson and others injured by Taxotere have experienced:
- Mental anguish
- Financial damages
- Loss of work
- Psychological damage
Sanofi-Aventis issued a warning to cancer patients in Europe but reportedly hid the alopecia risk from U.S. consumers. In the lawsuit, Dodson's representatives illustrated that the pharmaceutical company should be held responsible for:
- Emotional distress
- Fraud and deceit
- Breach of warranties
"As a direct result of Defendants’ wrongful and deceptive acts, thousands of women were exposed to the risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia without any warning and without any additional benefit," according to the lawsuit.
By filing a lawsuit, Ami Dodson has thrust the problem into the spotlight. The Dodson lawsuit has inspired other women to stand up to manufacturers who committed negligence by withholding risk results from the public.
For many breast cancer survivors, permanent hair loss after surviving chemotherapy is exhausting, time-consuming, and downright unfair.
"Defendants on one of the most vulnerable groups of individuals at the most difficult time in their lives," the lawsuit states. "Defendants obtained billions of dollars in increased revenues at the expense of unwary cancer victims simply hoping to survive their condition and return to a normal life."