The Fifth Circuit has thrown out a pair of suits against Sanofi U.S. Services Inc. alleging it failed to warn women that its chemotherapy drug Taxotere could cause permanent hair loss, finding the plaintiffs should have looked sooner into the cause of their injury.
In an opinion filed late Wednesday, the three-judge panel found the three plaintiffs in the suits, Deborah Johnson, Tanya Francis and Cynthia Thibodeaux, did not exercise due diligence and thus could not toll their claims against Sanofi past Louisiana’s one-year statutory limits.
While the women had argued they did not have information to implicate Sanofi until just before their claims were filed in 2016, the panel found there was information available they could have looked into when they realized their hair wasn’t coming back six months after they finished chemotherapy between 2009 and 2010.
In the suits, the women alleged Sanofi failed to provide a warning about possible permanent hair loss. In legal filings, the women made use of the multidistrict litigation’s “master complaint” and its specification that their condition, PICA — permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia — is diagnosable six months after chemo ends.
The panel determined that reasonably, the women should have done more to seek out the cause of their hair loss, noting that none of them inquired with their doctors about the cause, even though they asked about treatments for it.
The panel further noted that as early as 2006, women calling themselves “Taxotears” had formed an online presence blaming the drug for their hair loss, and in 2010, Canadian newspapers and U.S. broadcast news published articles on the subject of whether Taxotere causes hair loss.
Based on that review, the panel found Taxotere was not an “obscure possibility” as the cause of the women’s hair loss, and that a reasonable person would have looked into it far sooner.