Which One Would You Have Chosen?

Most women who received chemotherapy for their breast cancer were not given a choice as to which chemotherapy drug they would receive. Oncologists usually select the chemo drug for their patients without any doctor-patient discussion. If there is a discussion it is probably initiated by the patient who has done some drug research. Therefore, most breast cancer victims do not know what chemotherapy drugs they were given.

Many women were given either Taxotere or Taxol. The makers of Taxotere told doctors that it was more effective than Taxol in treating breast cancer. Another claimed advantage was that Taxotere was usually administered in 4 cycles, whereas Taxol is usually given in 12 cycles. So many oncologists selected Taxotere because they thought it was the more powerful and more effective cancer fighting drug and required fewer cycles. However, it is now clear that the efficacy of these two drugs is almost identical.

The selection of Taxotere over Taxol would not have been important except for the fact that Taxotere causes Permanent Hair Loss (Alopecia) in up to 12% of women according to some studies. Taxol does not cause Permanent Hair Loss in any noticeable numbers.

Doctors in the U.S. and women suffering from breast cancer should have been informed of the Alopecia Risk. The failure to disclose this risk to doctors and breast cancer victims is what the Taxotere lawsuit is about.

Taxotere is manufactured and marketed by Sanofi-Aventis, a French based corporation, and its subsidiaries. It was sold in Europe before it was introduced in the U.S. and the European version of the F.D.A. ordered Sanofi-Aventis to place the "Permanent Hair Loss" warning on the box and the advertising materials in Europe. And yet, Sano-Aventis chose not to place this warning on any of the Taxotere advertising materials or the box containing the drug when they introduced it in the U.S. even though they were obviously aware of the RISK of Permanent Hair Loss.

Breast Cancer victims and their doctors should have been able to make an informed decision as to which drug they wanted: the drug that doesn't cause Permanent Hair Loss or the drug that does.