Taxotere litigation is now slated to move forward with several bellwether trials scheduled to begin on September 21, 2018 in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. To date there are some 1,272 lawsuits that have been filed against Sanofi-Aventis that involve claims of permanent hair loss in breast cancer patients who have used Taxotere.
Those lawsuits have been combined into multidistrict litigation for the purposes of consolidating discovery and pretrial activities in a single court for the purpose of streamlining litigation. If the cases ultimately go to trial, they will all be returned to the original court where they were filed. Bellwether cases are held in instances of multidistrict litigation to provide plaintiffs in related cases with an idea of how their claims will fare in court.
The allegations in the suit are focused around claims that Sanofi promoted Taxotere as a more effective drug than a competitor, Taxol. The lawsuits allege that had Taxotere been known to have been the only or most effective drug available for the treatment of breast cancer then many women may have chosen to risk permanent hair lose, However, a 2008 New England Journal of Medicine study showed that Taxol to be an effective alternative.
Taxotere Litigation Defense Seeks Info on Outside Funding
For the second time Sanofi’s defense counsel is seeking to determine possible sources of outside funding for Taxotere litigation. Sanofi’s counsel contend in their motion that, “Defendant’s counsel was inadvertently sent an email from a lead generator offering to refer cases with a “guaranteed diagnosis” for a fee of $3,500 per case. Defendant has also learned that approximately 32,000 television advertisements related to Taxotere have been broadcast, at an estimated cost of $9,000,000.”
Third party funding, especially in mass tort litigation is legal and permissible. The defense argues here that “financially interested non-parties can substantially influence both the course and the resolution of pending litigation. Disclosure of non-parties is also essential to determining conflicts of interest—an especially salient consideration in complex litigation involving thousands of parties and dozens of law firms, lawyers, experts, and other legal service providers, as well as judges from transferor jurisdictions across the United States.”
This is the second time that Sanofi has attempted to obtain information about third party financing in Taxotere litigation. Plaintiffs responded strongly to the first attempt saying, “Defendant Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC’s (Sanofi’s) motion is an unfounded and unseemly attempt to smear both breast cancer survivors now suffering from permanent alopecia because of Taxotere and the attorneys who zealously represent them.” This second attempt by Sanofi puts an emphasis on transparency and prevention of conflicts of interest.