The American Diabetes Association estimates 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes with each passing year, and millions more who live with the condition go undiagnosed and untreated. Diabetes is so widespread that it is now the 7th leading cause of death for adults in the United States. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, you already know this illness requires constant medical attention and careful vigilance to keep in check.
You may not be aware, however, that the FDA recently announced a link between certain type 2 diabetes medications and a flesh-eating genital infection known as “Fournier’s gangrene.” When companies knowingly release drugs with side-effects this serious, it can constitute negligence on their part. In this post, our product liability lawyers review the issue, and discuss how you can protect yourself if you’ve been affected.
If you’ve contracted a serious illness or infection because of a negligent drug company, contact our defective drug attorneys in Kansas City at (888) 398-2277.
Which Type 2 Diabetes Medications Cause Fournier’s Gangrene?
Thankfully, the instances of Fournier’s gangrene are still considered to be quite rare: In a five-year review period, the FDA only discovered 12 individual cases of the infection. However, the risk is serious enough that the FDA has now issued an official safety announcement, stating that anyone who uses sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors could be at risk.
SGLT2 inhibitors are commonly prescribed to help patients with type 2 diabetes maintain blood sugar levels, but these drugs are far from reliable. SGLT2 inhibitors are already known for an array of dangerous side-effects – most notably ketoacidosis – and this latest addition to the list is just as deadly and painful. Because over 1.7 million patients were prescribed SGLT2 inhibitors in 2017 alone, this infection has the potential to affect hundreds of patients, in spite of its rarity.
The FDA has identified the following common SGLT2 inhibitor medications carry risks for Fournier’s gangrene:
For a complete list of the affected diabetes medications, make sure to read the full FDA announcement on their website.
What Are the Symptoms of Fournier’s Gangrene?
Fournier’s gangrene is a genital infection that causes the skin around the perineum to necrotize, or decay. It progresses very rapidly through the body, and destroys the tissues of the genital skin in the process. This life-threatening condition must be treated immediately, as nearly 1 in 3 patients diagnosed with this disease will die.
Symptoms of this life-threatening genital infection can be subtle, but telling. They often include:
- Sharp and sudden pain in the genitals
- Strong rotting smell in the genitals
- Increased heart rate
- Fever, typically above 100°F
- Swelling in the genital area or buttocks
- General sense of discomfort and poor health
- Loud “crackling” sound around the genital skin
- Blue-grey or reddish-purple patches on the genitals
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. A diagnosis of Fournier’s gangrene often requires intensive antibiotics and surgery. The FDA also recommends contacting their associated MedWatch program if you are diagnosed with Fournier’s gangrene, as the FDA is keeping a close watch on any cases related to SGLT2 inhibitors. Finally, if you believe corporate negligence caused your illness, be sure to consult with skilled legal representation on the best way to receive compensation for your injuries.