Since 2016, lawsuits involving Taxotere, a drug used to treat metastatic breast cancer, have been consolidated in a Multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Judge Triche-Milazzo oversees the litigation.
Who are the plaintiffs?
Plaintiffs in the MDL are women who received Taxotere to treat breast cancer. As a result of receiving Taxotere, plaintiffs developed alopecia, or permanent hair loss.
Who are the defendants?
Defendants include several manufacturers of Taxotere. The primary defendant, Sanofi-Aventis, developed and originally manufactured Taxotere. Other defendants are companies who later manufactured Taxotere. These companies had it approved by the FDA through less stringent methods. Manufacturers include Hospira, Accord, and Pfizer.
What did defendants do wrong?
Plaintiffs allege that defendants’ products caused their hair loss. Specifically, plaintiffs claim defendants knew that Taxotere causes permanent hair loss. As such, the manufacturers should have warned doctors and patients of this risk. Additionally, defendants misrepresented the drug’s safety and efficacy.
What is the status of the litigation?
Unfortunately, the litigation has been difficult for plaintiffs. Several cases were set for trial, but the cases were dismissed prior to trial. Further, the cases that were tried resulted in defense verdicts.
Last year, Judge Triche-Milazzo decided that the discovery process in some cases was complete. Therefore, she began remanding cases back to Federal Courts where they were originally filed, or could have been filed, for trials.
Once a case is remanded, a new judge is assigned to the case who sets the case for trial. The parties conduct additional discovery. This includes taking depositions of plaintiffs, treating physicians, and sales representatives.
Are all cases being remanded for trial?
Judge Milazzo initially remanded approximately 200 cases. After the initial remand, Judge Milazzo will remand approximately 500 cases at a time every few months. At this time, only cases naming defendant Sanofi, the original manufacturer of Taxotere, are being remanded for trial. There is no plan yet to remand cases involving other defendants’ products. Additionally, cases where plaintiffs’ Taxotere use began prior to December 2006 are not being remanded.
Is there a settlement?
Settlement negotiations between plaintiffs’ counsel and defense counsel have been underway for some time. However, the parties have been unable to reach a resolution. We are optimistic that the recent intervention of a court- appointed mediator will prompt a global resolution.