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Maryland Damage Caps Challenged in Risperdal Litigation

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A Risperdal plaintiff is calling a Maryland law that limits the ability to collect noneconomic damages against drug makers into question.

In November 2015, the man won a $1.75 million verdict after successfully proving that he developed gynecomastia after taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal when he was nine years old to treat sleeping problems. The judge later concluded that a Maryland law limiting noneconomic damages to a maximum of $680,000 bound the plaintiff, and the award was reduced.

The plaintiff was also prevented from pursuing punitive damages against Janssen Pharmaceuticals due to a May 2014 ruling in the Risperdal mass tort that the company’s business ties to New Jersey made it subject to a state law barring punitive damages in claims related to approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that punitive damages should be determined individually for each case to ensure that the interests of all the parties in the mass tort are properly balanced.

What is Risperdal?

Risperdal is an antipsychotic medication that was approved by the FDA in 1993 to treat adults with schizophrenia. A little over a decade later, the FDA approved additional uses for Risperdal, including the treatment of bipolar disorder in adults as well as juveniles, schizophrenia in children, and behavioral problems in autistic children.

Risperdal blocks the activity of dopamine in certain areas of the brain; however, blocking dopamine also affects the pituitary gland, causing a number of metabolic disruptions and resulting in the release of a hormone known as prolactin. Prolactin stimulates breast tissue development, causes lactation in pregnant and nursing women, and has been found to lead to gynecomastia in adolescent males and in children as young as four.

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