- Taxotere is a form of chemotherapy used to treat cancer
- Taxotere has been linked to permanent hair loss without proper warning
- FDA recently required Taxotere to add warning of permanent hair loss
- Hair loss caused by Taxotere can occur anywhere on the body
- The condition caused by Taxotere is known as alopecia
Taxotere injection concentrate was approved by the FDA on May 14, 1996. The drug is a form of injectable chemotherapy used for the treatment of breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, hormone refractory prostate cancer, gastric adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head, and neck cancer. Taxotere consists of nearly 75% of all prescriptions used to treat breast cancer patients, and has been noted as the most frequently used breast cancer drug in its class. Since 2004, drug sales have skyrocketed well above $1 billion per year. Although hair loss occurs in many patients undergoing chemotherapy, permanent hair loss is considered uncommon. Normally hair grows back 3 – 6 months after treatment. However, studies show that with Taxotere there is an increased risk of permanent hair loss that can occur anywhere on the body.
Manufactured by France-based Sanofi Aventis, Taxotere underwent an FDA label revision in December 2015, adding a warning of permanent alopecia (permanent hair loss) due to a significant number of reports to the FDA concerning permanent hair loss. Before this warning, many patients taking Taxotere were told that their hair loss would only be temporary, when in fact it can be permanent. Patients undergoing Taxotere therapy were not adequately warned about this severe side effect. It is believed that the manufacturers had knowledge of this risk of permanent hair loss but the company failed to disclose it.
Several studies have confirmed a link between Taxotere and permanent hair loss. One study published in February 2012 concluded, “severe and permanent female hair loss, especially scalp alopecia, is a new and rare cutaneous side-effect of the sequential FEC–docetaxel regimen used for early breast cancer adjuvant treatment,” while the company’s own study estimates that 3% of patients experience persistent or permanent hair loss.