On October 3, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order centralizing 89 lawsuits pending in at least 25 district courts into the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The cases will be coordinated in Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2740) and overseen by U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk — In Re: Taxotere (Docetaxel) Product Liability Litigation.
All of the lawsuits were filed by women who did not re-grow their hair after completing chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere.
The label on Taxotere was updated in December 2015 to warn that “cases of permanent alopecia have been reported,” according to the FDA.
However, lawyers say Sanofi-Aventis knew about the side effect much earlier. By 2005, a clinical trial that began in the 1990s found that 9.2% of patients did not re-grow their hair during the 10-year follow-up period after receiving Taxotere with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide.
Sanofi-Aventis is also accused of marketing Taxotere as superior to other, equally-effective chemotherapy drugs that were not associated with permanent hair loss.
Centralizing the lawsuits in an MDL for pretrial proceedings has many advantages. Lawyers can coordinate and share evidence produced in the discovery process. Afterward, they typically choose a few cases for “bellwether” trials and use the outcomes in settlement negotiations.