Taxotere is an unnecessary chemo drug that is adding even more suffering to women’s lives by causing alopecia (permanent hair loss). America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio, and attorney Ben Gordon discuss this.

Transcript of Video:

Papantonio: Ben, Taxotere, we’re hearing a lot about it right now, permanent baldness for thirty to forty year old women that have alternatives when it comes to chemotherapy. It just seems like this company has been pushing their product without warning women that they have an alternative.

Gordon: Exactly, it’s criminal.

Papantonio: Okay, well tell me the story a little bit. What …

Gordon: The basic story is this, you got two drugs, two choices. One is naturally occurring through Bristol Myers Squibb, it’s called Taxol. Sanofi, the French company, the ugly company that’s been convicted of all the Qui Tam violations, paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, ugly conduct, said, “Well, we can do better.” They made a synthetic version. It’s poison. It’s toxic. It’s twice as strong. It’s the same molecule, but they made it twice as strong, so they could try to beat Bristol Myers and they could get that market share.

What they didn’t tell people is that because it’s twice as strong and it’s more toxic, it causes permanent destruction of your hair follicles. They warned only about Alopecia, which nobody knows what it means anyway, right? In the LA community, which should mean temporary hair loss. These women were lead to believe, “We will cure your cancer and we will temporarily take your hair away.” When your cancer’s gone, your hair won’t come back. It was a lie.

Papantonio: All they had to do … Ben, here’s the point, first of all, women in chemotherapy are trying to save their life, I get that.

Gordon: Exactly.

Papantonio: The company played on that and they understood that there was a much better, more efficacious product out there besides the product that they were trying to compete with Bristol Myer on. They came in with this product, they knew it would cause permanent baldness. In other words, medicine A causes permanent baldness for the chemo treatment.

Gordon: Right.

Papantonio: Permanent. Okay, medicine B does better at treating the cancer and causes at best some transient baldness, but the hair grows back and women don’t have to live from the time they’re thirty five years old to the time they die without any hair.

Gordon: That’s right.

Papantonio: We made, in the male culture, they may say, “So, what?” For a woman to have to go through her life with total baldness, with no chance of ever recovering. It’s pretty serious stuff, especially when all the company had to do was put a damn warning on the product and say, “Look, you can take medicine A, from France that will make you permanently bald, or you can take medicine B from the United States that will treat the same cancer and will not make you permanently bald.”

Gordon: That’s right, Pap, studies show at least, a one in ten chance of permanent baldness in women who take this drug and they didn’t tell them that. It’s a question of human decency. It’s a question of informed consent. Tell these women they have a choice. Look, as you said, this is not about men. This is about women. Let’s talk to women about it. Women care about their hair. How big is the hair care product industry in this country and in this world? It’s billions of dollars. How many of our wives, sisters, daughters and mothers spend hours grooming themselves and getting ready? How much of that is focused on their hair? It’s important. It’s already criminal.

If this company is going to stoop to making these women victim third time, they’ve already made them a victim twice. They’ve said, “We’ll cure your cancer.” They’ve given them a good drug and they’ve not told them it’s toxic. Then they made them a victim of that. They’ve got this permanent badge of baldness that they’ve got to wear for the rest of their lives. You should see these pictures, they look like Ben Franklin.

Papantonio: The real …

Gordon: It’s criminal what they’ve done to them.

Papantonio: The real neanderthals that are going to hear this are going to say, “Oh, so what? You know. They gave them chemotherapy, they were trying to save their life.” No. That’s not the analysis. This medicine was not even as good as the medicine that has a better chance of curing cancer, will not make you permanently bald. For a woman, this is a big issue. This is a big issue.

Gordon: That’s right and talk about … Go ahead.

Papantonio: The point is I can already hear the defense, “Oh, so what? They were trying to …” No, this idea they’re trying to save their lives and there were no alternatives. All you do is give woman a chance. Choice is everything. Choice is everything.

Gordon: That’s right, talk to the scientists, talk to the Oncologists. Ask the Oncologists whether this is a big deal to the women. Ask the oncologist, whether Taxol and Taxotere are the same. What they’re going to tell you is, “Taxol is more efficacious is just as powerful, just as good or better in treating the cancer and preventing it from coming back as Taxotere, without the unwanted risk of permanent baldness.”

Which, by the way, Sanofi still hasn’t admitted to fully. The FDA has just now, a month ago, two months ago, December, told them, “You got to modify your warnings.” They still haven’t come forward with a really good, clear warning. They’ve already warned about it in Europe, for ten years. They’ve warned about it in other countries. They figured out this market in America is so good, we didn’t want to take the chance of ruining this market, by telling people the truth. Telling Doctors the truth.

Papantonio: Ben you’re working with a firm, a superb firm, that has been …

Gordon: Bachus and Schanker, great lawyers.

Papantonio: Yeah, great lawyers. I know of them and I know their history. What I love about this story is, they’ve done all of this research and this digging. They’ve met with thousands of women and they’ve tried to figure out, does this case matter? Everybody without exception, these women they’re permanently bald say, “Yeah, this matters. All they had to do was give me a choice. Just give me a choice, let me make the decision, not some cat in Paris, who’s already been hit …” Weren’t they hit for ninety million dollars, in the case.

Gordon: That’s right. Ninety million.

Papantonio: Ninety million dollars.

Gordon: They’ve got others pending for paying off Doctors, for hiding evidence, it’s an ugly company.

Papantonio: Okay. Look, Ben …

Gordon: Let me tell you, these guys, they’ve done their homework. They have focused group this. They have talked to all of these women and the common denominator, for all of these women … Shame on those who get on Facebook and say, “You should be glad that you’re alive.” These women have all said and the studies back this up, that if they had just been told that they had a choice, they could’ve made an informed decision.

That’s what this is about, it’s about human decency and responsibility and being honest. Tell these women that they could have this risk and then, if they want to take that risk, in spite of that and in knowing that. At least you’ve done the right thing and you’ve told them, but this company chose not to put that in their label.

Papantonio: Are you going to be working with Bachus and Schanker on this to try and continue … I think the documents are going to be incredible on this case. I think you’re going to find documents that are just earth shattering about what this company knew and what they chose to do. Simply so they could compete with a company who made a better product.

Gordon: The fact that they’ve known for this for years. That there’s studies coming out for at least ten years, or more, showing series after series of cases with permanent baldness and they’ve chosen not to tell the FDA that. They’ve chosen not to put that in their label, in America, while it’s already on the label in France and in Europe tells you everything.

It was good enough for them to tell French citizens about baldness, but they wouldn’t tell American citizens because why? They were worried about their market share.

Papantonio: Wait, back up, back up. Did they have a warning in France that would cause …?

Gordon: That’s right, they said for the French citizens, we’re going to tell you that there’s a risk for baldness, but we’re not going to tell Americans because it’s market share, all over again.

Papantonio: Yeah, okay. Ben Gorden, go get them buddy, go get them. Thank you for joining, okay?

Gordon: Thanks Pap, we intend to. Yes sir, thanks.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer".