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A federal lawsuit filed in San Diego alleges that the manufacturer of the chemotherapy drug Taxotere failed to disclose and warn women and their doctors of the drug’s increased risk of permanent baldness.

The lawsuit was filed against Sanofi-Aventis on behalf of an unnamed woman suffering from the drug’s permanent effects, according to the San Diego-based law firm representing her.

While it is generally understood that temporary baldness may be a side effect of chemotherapy, women were not warned of the risk of permanent baldness allegedly resulting from Taxotere use, despite the availability of an alternative and equally effective drug, the lawsuit alleges.

According to the lawsuit, a 2009 warning letter was issued to the drug’s manufacturer by the Federal Drug Administration as a result of alleged “false or misleading statements concerning unsubstantiated claims of Taxotere’s superior efficacy.”

As early as 2005, Sanofi-Aventis had knowledge, based on its own study, of Taxotere’s increased risk of permanent baldness, the suit alleges.

The complaint alleges that despite knowledge of warnings of permanent baldness in Canada and Europe, the drug’s U.S. label contained no mention of permanent hair loss until the label was changed last January.

Taxotere is widely prescribed for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer and other cancers. It is estimated that a majority of breast cancer patients receive Taxotere as part of their chemotherapy regimen, according to the plaintiff’s court papers.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in San Diego is the latest in a string of more than 30 cases filed across the country against the French drug manufacturer, according to attorney John Gomez.

–City News Service

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