According to a new study, physicians are advised to look after warning signs of a deadly flesh-eating infection in diabetic patients who take a certain type of drug, which could even kill them.
The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study examined the link between Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter-2 Inhibitors (SGLT2), which are prescribed to treat type II diabetes and a dangerous genital infection known as “Fournier gangrene,” an extremely rare yet a life-threatening disorder, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The researchers looked at 55 cases of patients with Fournier gangrene. All the 55 patients had taken SGLT2 inhibitors from March 2013 to January 2019. They all became severely ill, which required hospitalizations, surgical interventions, along with other complications, and three patients died of the infection.
The researchers also looked at patients who took other types of oral hypoglycemic agents (OHAs) for more than 35 years. They found 19 Fournier gangrene cases over that entire period and two deaths were reported.
Last year, the FDA warned about the signs and symptoms of Fournier gangrene, including “tenderness, or swelling of the genitals or the area from the genitals back to the rectum,” and a fever exceeding 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and “a general feeling of being unwell.”
The authors of the study have advised doctors to be on alert and look for these signs in patients who are taking SGLT2 inhibitors and to have a high index of suspicion to recognize it in its early stages.
The FDA approved SGLT2 inhibitors in 2013 for use along with diet and exercise to control blood sugar level in patients with type II diabetes. SGLT2 inhibitors reduce blood sugar by allowing the kidneys to eliminate sugar from the body through the urine. SGLT2 inhibitor drugs include canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, empagliflozin, and ertugliflozin.