Taxotere (Docetaxel) Eye Injuries Lawsuit

You might be eligible for compensation if you suffered eye injuries while or after using Taxotere during chemotherapy treatments. 

Taxotere eye injury lawsuits aim to hold Sanofi-Aventis accountable for supplying the public with a harmful chemotherapy drug. Those with breast cancer, neck cancer, and other types of cancer who’ve been given Taxotere in their chemotherapy treatments have developed vision loss, excessive watery eyes, and other debilitating conditions.

Call Paul LLP Trial Attorneys at (816) 984-8100 for a free consultation to discuss your possible case and determine whether you qualify for compensation from the negligent drug manufacturer.

What Is Taxotere (Docetaxel)?

Taxotere has been a popular chemo drug for treating breast cancer. It belongs to a class of drugs called taxanes that inhibit the multiplication of cancer cells by overstabilizing the cell structure. That prevents the cells from breaking down and reorganizing to produce new cancer cells and spread throughout the body. 

The Food and Drug Administration originally approved Taxotere in 1996 to treat patients diagnosed with metastatic or locally advanced breast cancer who had not responded favorably to other available treatments. Sanofi received approval from the FDA to expand the drug’s use for treating operable node-positive breast cancer in 2004.

Although most recognized as an effective treatment for breast cancer, Taxotere is available to treat other forms of cancer, including:

  • Metastatic prostate cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck
  • Metastatic non-small cell or locally advanced lung cancer
  • Advanced gastric adenocarcinoma

Medical Conditions Related to Taxotere

Patients often report epiphora during chemotherapy with Taxotere. Epiphora is excessive watering of the eyes and causes other unpleasant symptoms.

Medical researchers believe secretions from the drug interact with a person’s tears and other bodily fluids as it travels through the body. When it interacts with the tears in the canaliculus, a vital eye structure responsible for draining tears, it causes inflammation. Chronic inflammation and eye infections lead to obstructions and block tears from traveling through the canaliculus and into the nasal cavity.

Eye-watering can occur in those who suffer from allergies or develop the common cold. However, these symptoms eventually resolve. When Taxotere causes epiphora, the excessive watery eyes and other symptoms often require medical intervention. Sometimes, the effects are permanent.

Obstructions can eventually lead to canalicular stenosis, a condition that occurs when the canaliculus closes partially or entirely. Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Chronic eye infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Central vision loss
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Clouded eye lens

According to lawsuits filed by numerous plaintiffs nationwide, Sanofi-Aventis didn’t include adequate warning labels informing doctors and patients of the risk of vision-related issues and permanent eye injuries. Although the drug company does warn of the potential for excessive tearing from obstruction formation in the lacrimal duct, it does not disclose the risk of permanent damage. 

Treating Canalicular Stenosis

Although treatment options are available to manage symptoms, canalicular stenosis is irreversible. Since Sanofi failed to provide sufficient and comprehensive warning and instructions of the dangers of Taxotere, many doctors are unaware of the link between the chemo drug and canalicular stenosis. When patients complain of watery eyes, physicians often prescribe topical steroids. However, that doesn’t address and solve the underlying problem.

Two surgical procedures are available to open the canaliculus to facilitate the usual flow of tears – dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) and conjunctivodacryocystorhinostomy (CDCR). Both are invasive surgeries to create a passageway for tears to bypass the obstructed canaliculus and drain into the nasal passage.

Doctors recommend CDCR when the obstructions and canalicular damage are so severe that DCR isn’t a viable option. Instead of using existing structures to construct a passageway, a trained ophthalmologist must place a tiny glass tube called a Jones tube over the damaged canaliculus for proper tear drainage.

Both surgeries come with significant risks, including:

  • Jones tube migration
  • Permanent facial scarring
  • Overall ineffectiveness
  • Excessive bleeding during and after surgery
  • Jones tube rejection
  • Sinusitis
  • Blindness
  • Chronic eye infections
  • Tissue damage

Studies Connecting Taxotere with Permanent Eye Damage

Studies have shown that Taxotere can cause tear duct blockages, eventually leading to canalicular stenosis. The condition can be permanent without prompt treatment to address the inflammation and obstructions.

Some patients have experienced permanent epiphora that causes swelling, irritation, and blurry vision from using Taxotere to treat their cancer. The adverse symptoms also affect a person’s relationships, self-esteem, and ability to complete routine tasks.

The first study linking Taxotere to excessive eye watering was in the early 2000s. Researchers published the study in JAMA Ophthalmology, concluding epiphora is a common adverse effect of weekly docetaxel treatment, occurring in 77% of patients who received weekly docetaxel treatments.

Timeline of Taxotere Eye Injuries Lawsuits

In January 2022, attorneys representing plaintiffs in Taxotere eye injury lawsuits requested the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate the individual lawsuits into multidistrict litigation (MDL). An already-existing MDL involving Taxotere included 12,000 claims that the chemo drug led to permanent hair loss. The proposed class action had aimed to separate those claims from claims that Taxotere caused eye injuries, including excessive eye watering and vision loss.

Sanofi objected to the request due to an inadequate number of Taxotere eye damage lawsuits to justify an MDL. Instead, the drug manufacturer requested the JPML to combine the new eye damage cases with the existing hair loss MDL in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

In March 2022, the JPML rejected Sanofi’s request and created a new Taxotere MDL class action. The panel determined consolidating eye damage lawsuits into one MDL was appropriate, and all actions would require evidence related to the development, marketing, and sale of Taxotere. Additional evidence would include the allegations about Taxotere leading to eye injuries, the manufacturer’s knowledge of the risk of eye damage, and the adequacy of warning labels.

Since Judge Jane Triche Milazzo was already overseeing the Taxotere hair loss MDL, she would also administer the Taxotere eye injury MDL.

A new study found evidence of Taxotere causing epiphora and optic neuropathy in March 2022. The findings bolstered claims of Taxotere leading to vision problems. Researchers discovered a seven-fold increase in excessive tearing and watery eyes from using Taxotere during chemotherapy.

In June 2022, the JPML consolidated all Taxotere eye injury cases filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana for Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to oversee.

Sanofi filed a motion to dismiss the claims involving Taxotere eye injuries pending in federal court in August 2022. The manufacturer argued against the plaintiffs’ allegations of inadequate warning that Taxotere could cause permeant eye injuries, including excessive tearing due to tear duct blockage. However, the company didn’t add the warning to its drug labels until 2022.

As of May 2023, litigation for Taxotere eye injury lawsuits in MDL is pending. Currently, there are 197 cases for vision-related problems in Louisiana federal court.

Sanofi’s Failure to Update Taxotere Warning Labels

Manufacturers like Sanofi are responsible for communicating various information to patients and doctors so they know the potential dangers of its product. The company must provide accurate, complete, and current efficacy and safety details related to its product.

Federal law requires drug manufacturers to warn of adverse effects if there is any basis for a causal relationship between a drug and the occurrence of an adverse event. They must also revise labeling with warnings about clinically significant hazards promptly when reasonable evidence shows a causal association with a drug.

Sanofi eventually changed its warning labels to include the risk of eye damage from Taxotere during chemo. However, the company didn’t make the changes immediately after receiving reports of the harmful effects of its medication. On initial warning labels, it also didn’t mention the possibility of permanent eye injuries, such as epiphora or canalicular stenosis.

How to Qualify for a Taxotere Lawsuit

You might qualify for a lawsuit against Sanofi if you treated your cancer with Taxotere and suffered epiphora, canalicular stenosis, or other eye injuries, such as:

  • Dry eyes
  • Blocked or obstructed tear ducts
  • Eye irritation
  • Narrowing of the tear ducts
  • Vision loss or total blindness
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive eye watering
  • Eye infections and inflammation
  • Swelling in and around the eyes

Possible Compensation in a Taxotere Eye Injury Lawsuit

You could file a lawsuit against the Taxotere manufacturer for injuries sustained during or after chemo treatment. It doesn’t matter your type of cancer or treatment regimen. You can sue Sanofi for compensation if you used Taxotere and developed adverse side effects or a permanent vision-related condition.

The money you recover might compensate you for your:

  • Diminished quality of life
  • Prescriptions, surgeries, and other medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Mental anguish

Hold the Makers of Taxotere Liable

You can seek the justice you deserve by contacting Paul LLP Trial Attorneys. We will review your case to determine whether you’re eligible for a Taxotere lawsuit. Let our experienced legal team protect your rights and fight for your future. 

Call us at (816) 984-8100 for a free consultation if you have suffered eye damage, vision loss, epiphora, or another medical condition due to chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere. We are ready to seek the maximum possible compensation on your behalf.

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Rick Paul
Ashlea Schwarz