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Common diabetes drugs have been linked to a ‘flesh-eating’ genital infection

Published on 09/05/19 at 02:04pm

Patients taking some newer diabetes medications – SGLT2 inhibitors – have been warned that they may be at risk of developing necrotizing fasciitis infections on their genitals.

The rare, flesh-eating bacterial infection, which is called Fournier gangrene (FG) when it appears on the genitals, was found in 55 patients receiving SGLT2 inhibitors between March 2013 and January 2019.

Researchers at the FDA found cases of FG occurred in 39 men and 16 women aged between 33 and 87 years old between 5 days and 59 months after taking SGTL2 inhibitors. The findings were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Nevertheless the study authors were keen to stress the fact that FG is a “rare event.” Dr Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City made clear that: “The benefits of these medications outweigh the risks”

“In 2017, an estimated 1.7 million patients received a dispensed prescription for an SGLT2 inhibitor," said study author Dr Susan Bersoff-Matcha, a medical officer in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“While our study shows an association between treatment with SGLT2 inhibitors and Fournier gangrene, we don't know exactly what the risk is, or if Fournier gangrene can be predicted.”

“We remain confident in the positive benefit-risk profile of empagliflozin, and empagliflozin-containing products, as outlined in the prescribing information," the statement from Boehringer Ingelheim, who manufacture SGTL2 inhibitor Jardiance (empagliflozin) said.

Louis Goss

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