In October, the JPML consolidated all federal Taxotere lawsuits into MDL 2740. At the time, there were 33 lawsuits filed in 16 districts. Those lawsuits alleged Sanofi marketed Taxotere as being a superior cancer treatment to other drugs despite knowing that patients' hair loss could be permanent. Some lawsuits go further and allege employees were trained to lie about the safety of the drug and paid kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing the drug off-label.
Off-label drug use—in which the drug is prescribed to treat conditions it is not approved for—is not illegal. But drug companies are not allowed to market drugs for such uses and cannot encourage off-label prescriptions.
As of December 15, 2016—two-and-a-half months after the MDL was created—the number of lawsuits consolidated for pretrial proceedings had grown to 267. As the MDL is in its early stages, that number is likely to increase.
Hair loss is a generally accepted side effect of chemotherapy, but most patients expect the hair loss will be temporary. Plaintiffs allege Sanofi knew their drug was not more effective than other medications and had an increased risk of some side effects but continued to market the drug as better than alternative drugs.
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One lawsuit, filed by Ami Dodson, alleges Sanofi knew back in the late 1990s that almost 10 percent of patients who used Taxotere suffered hair loss that lasted more than 10 years.
Taxotere is used to treat women who have breast cancer. Reports indicate sales of Taxotere reached $1.4 billion in 2004.
The Dodson lawsuit is Dodson v. Sanofi SA, et al case number 3:16-cv-01251.