Taxotere (docetaxel) is a taxane chemotherapy drug that works by preventing mitosis (cell division), which stops cancer cells from growing and spreading in the body. Taxotere has been shown to improve the quality of life for people with prostate cancer and is an effective treatment against various types of breast cancer, particularly when the cancer is caught early. It has also been used to treat lung cancer, stomach cancer, and head and neck cancers.
However, some cancer patients have a contraindication that makes Taxotere an unsuitable treatment for their illness. Those patients may not be able to use Taxotere at all if doing so could lead to a life-threatening condition. For other patients, the contraindication or side effects may be mild to moderate, in which case the patient might be able to use the drug with caution.
Regardless, full information about the drug and the side effects it causes is needed in order for a doctor to properly advise their patient, and for a patient to give informed consent. Due to a lack of disclosure on the part of Taxotere manufacturer Sanofi, that could not happen and many cancer survivors are left to deal with the consequences of side effects they were not warned about.
If you were given Taxotere during chemotherapy and developed chronically watery eyes (epiphora) or canalicular stenosis as a result, fill in our case evaluation quiz or call (800) 763-6155 to speak with a member of our team about a Taxotere lawsuit and the compensation you may be owed.
What Is a Contraindication?
A contraindication refers to a condition or situation that makes a certain course of treatment undesirable since it could harm the patient. There are two forms of contraindications: relative contraindications and absolute contraindications.
A relative contraindication means that caution should be exercised when pursuing a specific course of treatment, but the benefits of using a certain drug outweigh the potential risks. For example, if a patient receives Taxotere alongside another drug that could interact with Taxotere, their doctor has likely determined that the advantages of the treatment supersede the potential harm from any possible interactions between the drugs.
An absolute contraindication refers to a serious or life-threatening condition a patient could suffer from if they receive a specific procedure or drug, such as Taxotere. For instance, if a cancer patient experiences a severe allergic reaction the first time their doctor administers Taxotere, that would constitute an absolute contraindication with the drug. The patient would have to be treated with another medication in that case.
Who Shouldn’t Take Taxotere?
If you have any of the conditions listed below, it could be a contraindication related to Taxotere use. If the contraindication is absolute, your doctor will likely recommend a different cancer treatment.
If the contraindication is relative, your doctor will closely monitor your condition to ensure that Taxotere isn’t harming your health. Some common conditions that are contraindicated with Taxotere include:
- A serious infection
- Reduced blood platelets
- Low levels of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell
- Stomatitis, or inflammation and soreness in the mouth
- Peripheral neuropathy, a condition that causes pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the hands, feet, limbs, and other parts of the body
- Peripheral motor neuropathy, a disorder of the peripheral nerves that stimulate movement
- Pericardial tamponade, or compression of the heart caused by fluid buildup in the pericardium
- Left ventricular heart failure
- Fluid in lungs
- Liver issues
- Irregular liver function tests
- Water retention, which can cause visible puffiness and bloating in the abdominal cavity, face, and hips
- Fluid retention in the legs, feet, arms, or hands
- Macular degeneration and swelling
- Higher than normal levels of bilirubin in the blood, which may indicate liver or bile duct issues
- Lung tissue problems
- Individuals who are breastfeeding infants
According to the FDA, Taxotere is considered contraindicated in patients who have previously experienced hypersensitivity after receiving docetaxel. Patients with allergies to other medications that contain polysorbate 80 should also avoid Taxotere, as should patients with low neutrophil cell counts (less than 1500 cells/mm3).
Taxotere is known to interact with other drugs and substances. It can also cause certain health conditions and unpleasant side effects. If you have been diagnosed with cancer and your doctor prescribed Taxotere as a treatment, that means they have decided that the advantages of taking the drug trump the risks of interactions or side effects.
Some of the most common interactions and health issues that arise from using Taxotere include:
- Taxotere interacts with medications such as telithromycin, atazanavir, itraconazole, clarithromycin, indinavir, ketoconazole, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, nefazodone, and voriconazole. Before you take Taxotere alongside one of these drugs, your doctor will determine whether the benefits outweigh the effects of the interaction. All these medications can affect the way that Taxotere works.
- Taxotere can get into all bodily fluids, including breastmilk. If you are breastfeeding, you should speak to your doctor before taking Taxotere.
- If you have a history of blood disorders, fluid retention, liver problems, or certain infections, you should discuss those issues with your doctor and determine whether Taxotere could harm you.
- Taxotere contains alcohol, which could affect your ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other tasks. Don’t undertake any dangerous activities until you know how Taxotere affects you.
- In rare instances, when Taxotere is used with other drugs, the combined medications can cause acute myeloid leukemia.
Taxotere can also cause a severe allergic reaction in some patients. When you start treatment, your doctor will closely monitor you for signs of an allergic reaction and may give you medicine to prevent such a reaction. If you have an allergic reaction to Taxotere, you might experience itching, skin rashes, swelling in the lips, face, and throat, respiratory problems, fever, and chills.
If you are concerned about any of the above interactions or health issues associated with Taxotere, discuss your concerns with your doctor before starting treatment. Your doctor will help you decide whether it is best to go ahead with the treatment or find an alternative medication.
The Taxotere Lawsuit
Studies have repeatedly shown that Taxotere can cause severe and permanent side effects, including an eye condition known as canalicular stenosis. In addition to other bodily fluids, Taxotere gets absorbed into tears, which inflame the delicate tissue in the tear ducts as they pass through. This inflammation can lead to obstructions, forcing tears back into the eye and causing excessive tearing (epiphora).
The manufacturer of Taxotere, Sanofi-Aventis, failed to warn consumers that the drug could cause severe, permanent eye damage. Numerous cancer patients who developed canalicular stenosis after receiving Taxotere have filed product liability lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis seeking compensation for their medical expenses and other losses.
If you suffered from canalicular stenosis after using Taxotere to treat cancer, Hotze Runkle PLLC can help you seek compensation for your losses. For a free consultation to discuss your case, call us at (800) 763-6155 or fill in our case evaluation quiz and a member of our team will reach out to you.