Taxotere Drug Manufacturer Sued Over Patient’s Permanent Hair Loss

by Terry Bryant

Bald Woman Taxotere

Suffering from Taxotere-induced permanent hair loss?

Like many cancer patients, Alina S. Gorniak probably knew that when her breast cancer was treated with a chemotherapy drug, she might temporarily lose her hair. However, in a case her lawyer has now filed in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, she insists that she was never warned that any hair loss problem tied to the use of Taxotere might become permanent.

Plaintiff’s Cancer Diagnosis Leading to Treatment with Taxotere

Ms. Gorniak’s pleadings indicate that she was first diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma in her left breast back in January of 2013. Shortly thereafter, she was advised to accept treatment with the potent chemotherapy drug Taxotere, marketed by Sanofi-Aventis. This drug has been on the market since it was first approved by the FDA back in 1996.

The plaintiff was treated with Taxotere between February of 2013 and June of that same year. She received a total of six treatments.

When Ms. Gorniak First Noticed Her Hair Loss Was Permanent

It was after receiving her sixth treatment with Taxotere back in 2013 that the plaintiff discovered that her hair loss would be permanent. She is one of many people to sue based on this type of claim against Sanofi-Aventis. Ms. Gorniak refers to her current, ongoing condition as a permanently disfiguring form of alopecia (hair loss).

According to information currently posted on the National Alopecia Areata Foundation website, this hair loss condition often starts out with small patches of hair being lost – until an entire area of the body (such as the head) is completely hairless.

Chief Legal Complaints Asserted by Plaintiff’s Lawyer

The following arguments, along with the other data already set forth above, are outlined in the Injury Lawyer News website.

  1. The company had prior knowledge of this problem. Gorniak’s lawsuit alleges that Sanofi-Aventis already knew (based on earlier studies) — including one conducted back in 2005 — that as many as nine percent (9%) of patients treated with Taxotere might suffer hair loss lasting a decade or longer. She also asserts that one or more practicing oncologists alerted the drug manufacturer back around 2006 to the high percentage of patients suffering permanent hair loss;
  2. False claims made concerning Taxotere’s unique effectiveness. This lawsuit also alleges that Ms. Gorniak (and perhaps other similar plaintiffs) were misled that this drug was the most effective taxane-based one available to fight certain breast cancers. The plaintiff claims that the manufacturer’s claims were exaggerated and that it was not any more effective at treating her type of cancer than other chemotherapy drugs already on the market at the time Taxotere was administered to her;
  3. Severe emotional distress has been caused by the usage of Taxotere. Gorniak alleges that her quality of life has been seriously impaired due to her permanent hair loss and that it continues to cause her debilitating emotional distress;
  4. Other general product liability claims breach of warranty – as well as the violation of specific Texas consumer protection laws.

More Published Proof that Sanofi-Aventis Knew of the Permanent Hair Loss Problem

Besides the larger studies indicating the toxic side effects of Taxotere already referenced above, at least two smaller ones had been published. One of them appeared in 2011 in the Annals of Oncology. It explicitly referenced Taxotere side effects such as permanent hair loss. The other study was published that same year in the American Journal of Dermatology – it also noted the serious risk of permanent hair loss when chemotherapy drugs containing taxanes are used.

Ms. Gorniak’s complaint regarding her breast cancer treatment places special emphasis on her ongoing emotional suffering. Since she claims that she can no longer work due to her permanent hair loss – she is seeking damages to recover for all lost future earnings. Her complaint also seeks recovery for all past and future medical expenses.