The deadline was originally set for September 30 but has since been adjourned to October 16. Attorneys, however, have an obligation to update informational filings with the court, so the door, although rapidly closing, may not actually slam shut on that date. The order is directed to lawyers, but the message to plaintiffs is clear:
File now, or risk being left out.
More than 1,500 Taxotere hair loss cases have now been consolidated in the Eastern District of Louisiana as “Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation MDL No. 2740’ (Taxotere MDL). Hundreds more cases may exist. These are the plaintiffs who need to step up now.
The first Taxotere MDL bellwether trials are currently scheduled to begin in January 2019. Bellwether actions involve generally shared issues and are intended to gauge the strength of plaintiffs’ claims. Verdicts may provide insight into how juries are likely to rule in similar lawsuits. With the selection and scheduling of bellwether trials and the issuance of the pre-trial order, claimants should understand that behind-the-scene settlement negotiations are already in high gear.
The FDA first approved Taxotere to treat metastatic and adjuvant breast cancer in 1996. Since then, more than 2 million women have been treated with Taxotere. The drug is less frequently prescribed to treat prostate cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, advanced stomach cancer and head and neck cancer. One of the advantages of treatment with Taxotere, rather than other chemotherapy drugs, is that the course of treatment may be shorter. There is no reported difference in the quality of health outcome.
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In each of the Taxotere MDL cases, patients argue not that Taxotere is an ineffective treatment, but that Sanofi-Aventis’s failure to disclose the risk of permanent hair loss deprived them of their right to make informed choices about their medical care.
Permanent hair loss can be devastating to some patients, and the ability to proactively manage one’s medical treatment is a valuable right. A plaintiff’s chance to be financially compensated for these losses may be best served by acting promptly to join a possible Taxotere settlement.