When a woman agrees to chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, she knows that hair loss is a likely side effect; in the majority of cases she proceeds with the treatment and hopes for the best. What she doesn’t really anticipate is permanent baldness.
Unfortunately, that’s what more than 700 women are claiming happened as a result of taking the chemotherapy drug Taxotere, which is made by French multinational Sanofi-Aventis. According to a new press release issued by the San Diego-based Schmidt National Law Group who are involved in a class action lawsuit, the number of plaintiffs almost tripled from 260 to more than 700 over Christmas.
They say that the sudden increase follows the consolidation of federal Taxotere lawsuits into a multi-district litigation.
“Highly potent” drug
Schmidt claim that Taxotere is highly potent, and that its label used to state that around three per cent of patients could experience permanent hairloss. They say, however, that studies show the rate could actually be between around six and 16 per cent.
Today, they say, the label on the Taxotere drug states that the frequency of permanent hair loss is “not known.”
While still seeking more claimants, the lawyers are pressing ahead with litigation against the company in a lawsuit named Snowden vs Sanofi S.A. et al in the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Their key client, Theresa Snowdon, is claiming that the company designed a defective product and failed to warn of its potential risks.
The risks associated with the drug have certainly been known for some time: back in 2010, Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper ran a story about several women who claimed that Taxotere had caused permanent baldness. At the time, Laurent-Didier Jacobs, the then vice-president of medical affairs for Sanofi-Aventis Canada was quoted as saying: “We fully understand that persistent alopecia may be a burden for patients, but still we consider it’s certainly something which is not life-threatening or is not something which impairs the likelihood of survival.”
When a woman – or man – loses their hair temporarily it can be extremely stressful; some hospitals run workshops to help patients cope with such sudden and dramatic changes in appearance. To lose hair permanently can be little short of devastating.
Cold cap can help
Cancer patients are sometimes able to avoid losing their hair by using a device called a cold cap, which fits onto the head during chemotherapy treatment and chills the scalp. This slows down the blood flow and consequently keeps the cancer drugs away from the hair follicles as treatment is being administered. It has proved to be effective in a great many cases, though it is not known if the cold cap has been effectively used to stave off hair loss caused by Taxotere.
Anyone who has lost hair during cancer treatment and is concerned about regrowth can seek out the help of a professional hair loss specialist at a dedicated clinic such as Belgravia, where a free consultation will help put them in the picture. Tailor-made treatment courses can sometimes help maximise the chances of a full recovery as long as the cancer survivor’s oncologist confirms they are suitable.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.