Taxotere Lawsuit Updates and Information
Taxotere Lawsuit Update
Update: March 2, 2017
After a long time winding its way through the judicial system, one of the hot class action and MDL lawsuit categories of 2016 and early 2017 is proving to be chemotherapy drug Taxotere and that’s going to be true once again in mid-March when plaintiffs and defendants are forced back to the settlement committee tables in New Orleans for a final crack at keeping the resolution out of a jury’s hands.
The Multidistrict Litigation US Judicial Panel made the decision that 33 lawsuits over Taxotere - charging the chemotherapy drug caused permanent hair loss and manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis knew this - was moved to the US District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana in October 2016. By early 2017, the number of lawsuits had grown to nearly 800.
Despite the settlement conference attempt, reports coming from the Plaintiff’s side suggest they’re ready to head into the courtroom and are ready with both the master complaint and short form complaint, which will need to filed with the court by March 31. A master complaint replaces the individual complaints to keep things easier to handle, while a short form complaint allows new plaintiffs to join the MDL in an expedited manner.
And this isn’t the only area Sanofi-Aventis may end up with an unlawful black eye when it comes to Taxotere. In January a former oncology drug sales specialist for the company saw his lawsuit against the company continue alleging the drug manufacturer forced him to market Taxotere for off-label uses while he was employed with the company.
In his original filing, Yoash Gohil - who worked with the company for 20 years - accused Aventis (it was not known as Sanofi-Aventis until a later merger) of training and instructing its employees to misrepresent and ignore the safety of Taxotere (known generically as docetaxel) so they could grow the market in areas that were not approved. The former employee also charged the drug manufacturer with paying health care providers illegal kickbacks, like phony grants, speaking fees, tickets and free samples, in order to incentivize off-label uses, according to court records.
It’s unknown if the negative press from the Gohil case might prompt Sanofi-Aventis to push to settle its Taxotere lawsuits faster than it otherwise may have.
While all of this has been going on, Sanofi-Aventis has made one small change to its marketing, probably hoping it can point to being proactive against claims many breast cancer patients who have needed to use the chemotherapy drug and have suffered permanent alopecia. For years, a marketing flyer distributed describing Taxotere told chemotherapy patients: “Once you have completed all your treatment, hair generally grows back.”
After the FDA changed its safety warnings about the drug, warning users of permanent alopecia, the company’s flyer now reads “In some cases (frequence not known) permanent hair loss has been observed.”
Complaints against Sanofi-Aventis say the company new that nearly 10 percent of patients experienced alopecia for 10 years or longer but did not report it to patients until the FDA changed its own guidance.
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