Taxotere Watery Eyes Lawsuit Attorneys
Were you or a loved one given the chemotherapy drug, Taxotere (docetaxel)? Did you experience severe side effects, such as unexplained watery-eyes and tears running down your face? If so, contact the experienced defective drug attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC for help right away. According to medical research, these side effects are the result of the ocular condition, canalicular stenosis. We are actively investigating claims made by patients just like you who were not informed of the dangers of this medication and suffered serious eye issues as a result.
If you or someone you love has cancer, you know first-hand that coping with the physical, emotional, and financial impact can be extremely overwhelming — especially if the type of cancer you are dealing with is aggressive, invasive, and requires expensive long-term treatment. Although these treatments are primarily intended to fight the growth and spread of cancer cells, they can often cause a number of severe side-effects.
Many of these side-effects are well-known and well-documented by various medical professionals across the industry. However, some of these side-effects are not adequately disclosed to doctors or patients, especially when the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies place the pursuit of profits over the health and wellness of the consumer.
If you or someone you love has developed canalicular stenosis as a result of taking Taxotere, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Pharmaceutical companies have a legal obligation to ensure that consumers are fully informed of every possible side-effect. In the lawsuits being pursued against Sanofi-Aventis, plaintiffs are filing suit regarding the company’s active role in denying, ignoring, and misleading physicians and consumers about the severity of the drug’s side-effects.
At Hotze Runkle PLLC, we want you to know that you have every right to seek justice against every negligent party involved in violating your rights. You should not have to deal with the debilitating side-effects of a necessary treatment just because you were not properly informed -- especially when you are already dealing with overcoming cancer.
Our compassionate team of attorneys understands that you are already going through enough -- you do not deserve injustice in addition to illness. To schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team, call our offices at (800) 763-6155 as soon as you can.
Taxotere (docetaxel), is a drug used to treat several types of cancer – and in particular, breast cancer. This drug is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, a pharmaceutical company that is currently dealing with over ten thousand lawsuits, particularly among survivors of breast cancer.
One serious side-effect of Taxotere is a permanent, irreversible ocular condition known as canalicular stenosis. Patients who deal with this condition experience several symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. These symptoms include:
- Constant, excessive tears (epiphora)
- Blurred or clouded vision
- Vision loss (cystoid macular edema)
- Light sensitivity
- Eye irritations and infections
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
These symptoms can heavily affect daily activities, often times preventing patients from driving, reading, or wearing make-up. If a patient’s job requires them to operate heavy machinery, conduct detailed inspections, or read for long periods of time, then canalicular stenosis could potentially be debilitating in nature.
Taxotere: How Does It Work?
Taxotere is a drug used during chemotherapy, intended to help combat the growth and spread of cancerous cells within the body. This drug is used to treat several types of cancer, including:
- Breast cancer – used to treat early-stage breast cancer, operable node-positive breast cancer, and metastatic breast cancer after failure of prior chemotherapy
- Lung cancer – used as first or second-line treatment for locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after failure of prior platinum-based chemotherapy.
- Prostate cancer – used to treat patients with metastatic prostate cancer
- Stomach cancer – used to treat patients with advanced gastric adenocarcinoma
- Head and/or neck cancer – used for the treatment of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).
Taxotere belongs to a family of drugs called “taxanes,” which are classified as “plant alkaloids” that combat cancer by slowing cell growth. According to a report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Taxotere works by attacking cancer cells in your body. Different cancer medications attack cancer cells in different ways . . . Every cell in your body contains a supporting structure (like a skeleton). Damage to this “skeleton” can stop cell growth or reproduction. Taxotere makes the “skeleton” in some cancer cells very stiff, so that the cells can no longer grow.”
Taxotere can be taken as frequently as once a week, but even patients who only receive a dose once every three weeks have reported developing canalicular stenosis.
What is Canalicular Stenosis?
What exactly is canalicular stenosis, and how does it occur? Your eyes contain a complex system of ducts and sacs that all play an important role in tear-production:
- Each time you blink, a tear film spreads across the surface of the eye making it smooth and clear. The tears then travel through small canals, called the canaliculus, down into your nasolacrimal duct.
- Canalicular stenosis is the obstruction of the canaliculus. When an obstruction occurs in the canaliculus, tears are blocked and forced back onto the eye, where they well up and then run and down the face. This can cause blurry vision, irritated eyes and other ocular issues.
- Medical research established the connection between patients with canalicular stenosis and the chemotherapy drug, Taxotere, also known as Docetaxel. After taking samples from the tears of patients, it was established that Taxotere is secreted into the tears. As the tears drain, Taxotere damages the canaliculus through fibrosis, or scarring. If not treated immediately, this scarring can cause a narrowing and permanent closure of the canaliculus.
When administered, Taxotere passes into the patient’s body fluids. This includes, urine, feces, vomit, breast milk, and yes — tears as well. According to a report from Bita Esmaeli, M.D., of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Canalicular stenosis . . . is most likely caused by the secretion of docetaxel in the tear film and the resultant chronic inflammation of the canaliculi caused by direct contact with the drug the tears travel through these structures.”
Essentially, this means that when Taxotere passes into the tear film, it irritates the most delicate tissues of your eyes. This irritation could be relatively mild, or it could be so severe that is causes permanent and irreversible damage to your eyes.
Canalicular stenosis and epiphora are side-effects of Taxotere that are actually completely preventable — if the symptoms are recognized early enough. When a patient currently undergoing chemotherapy presents with epiphora she should be referred to an ophthalmologist, or ideally an oculoplastic surgeon for examination.
If it is determined that the patient has some obstruction in the canaliculus, temporary stents can be inserted in order to prevent permanent and complete closure of the canaliculus. The temporary stents remain throughout the course of Taxotere treatment and are removed four to six weeks after the discontinuation of Taxotere.
If the canalicular obstruction is not addressed in a timely manner, successful outcomes are more difficult as the only solution may require more advanced surgical procedures. Sanofi-Aventis has gone to great lengths to actively downplay the severity of these side-effects, and to mislead both consumers and health care providers of its potential long-term consequences.
As a result, many patients and physicians are under the impression that tearing and watery eyes will stop when chemotherapy treatment is completed, but unfortunately it is too late and they are left with permanent damage to their eyes.
Canalicular Stenosis: What Are the Treatment Options?
Unfortunately, once canalicular stenosis is developed it can be permanent and irreversible. Canalicular stenosis can result in mild, moderate or severe obstruction. Depending on the severity, the treatment options are limited.
Due to the lack of adequate warning, many physicians are not familiar with the connection between canalicular stenosis and Taxotere. As a result, many patients are given topical steroids to address the watery eyes. Unfortunately this just places a bandaid over the underlying problem of canalicular stenosis. Your eyes are not watering and tearing because you lack the proper steroids – your eyes are watering and tearing because Taxotere has scarred your canaliculus to the point of obstruction.
Beyond treatment with topical steroids, two surgical procedures are often attempted to open the canaliculus. The procedure is either a dacryocystorhinostomy (“DCR”) or a conjunctivodacryocystorhinostomy (CDCR). According to a report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “when 1 or both canaliculi are severely obstructed, a (CDCR) may be required.”
This surgery is recommended to a patient when the canalicular damage is so severe, that no part of the canaliculus can be used to reconstruct a tear passageway. Instead, a trained ophthalmologist will place a tiny glass tube (Jones tube) where the canaliculus once was, so that proper tear drainage can commence. However, this surgery does not come without its own set of potential hazards, including:
- The potential for the Jones tube to migrate within the body
- The potential for the Jones tube to be obstructed
- The potential for the Jones tube to be rejected by the body
- Uncontrolled hemorrhaging during and after surgery
- Permanent facial scarring
- Further irritation and infection
- Overall ineffectiveness
- Further damage to surrounding tissues, potentially leading to blindness
Sanofi-Aventis: Can They Be Held Responsible?
Yes. Sanofi-Aventis is a multi-billion dollar corporation responsible for the research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of both over-the-counter and pharmaceutical drugs. Taxotere was approved for the treatment of breast cancer and brought to market in 1996. Medical research first identified the relationship between canalicular stenosis and Taxotere four years later in 2000.
Since 2000, dozens of studies have confirmed and established the connection between Taxotere and canalicular stenosis. Despite numerous warnings by oculoplastic surgeons, ophthalmologist and oncologists, Sanofi has done nothing to warn of the permanent and irreversible nature of canalicular stenosis or the preventive measures that can be taken to avoid this.
Nearly 20 years have passed since the identification of this permanent and irreversible side effect, yet Sanofi continues to ignore the warnings and keep physicians and patients in the dark.
Currently, Sanofi-Aventis is dealing with thousands of lawsuits from current and former cancer patients — particularly among breast cancer survivors. In these lawsuits, plaintiffs are suing for false marketing and the company’s active role in denying, ignoring, and misleading consumers about permanent hair loss.
Similarly, the litigation we are undertaking against Sanofi is for their failure to warn of a permanent and irreversible side effect – in this instance it is permanent damage to the eyes. Sanofi will not make any changes to its warnings unless it is forced to do so by the very patients it injured.
At Hotze Runkle PLLC, our dedicated team of attorneys has extensive experience representing former and current cancer patients who have been harmed by big pharmaceutical companies such as Sanofi-Aventis. Hotze Runkle PLLC has secured over $100 million for our clients in a variety of litigation and we will continue to fight on behalf of injured victims.
If you or someone you love is currently experiencing watery and tearing eyes after the completion of chemotherapy, call the product liability attorneys at Hotze Runkle PLLC as soon as possible. We can be reached at (800) 763-6155, through our contact form, or by chatting with us live, and we’ll schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your legal options.
When you hire us to represent you, we’ll fight for you without collecting any upfront fees. Our team will work on a contingency-fee basis, which means that we won’t get paid until we win money for you.