New study: Deadly 'flesh-eating' genital infection linked to certain diabetes medication

Deadly ties between a type of diabetes medication and a life threatening flesh-eating infection have surfaced in a new report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found links between a genital infection called Fournier gangrene, and a class of prescription medicine used for people with type 2 diabetes called sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors.

The FDA identified 55 cases of FG in patients who received SGLT2 inhibitors between March 2013 and January 2019, with patients ranging in age from 22 to 87 years.

In 2017, roughly 1.7 million people received a prescription for the diabetes medication from retail pharmacies.

Of all the patients surveyed in the study:

* All had damaged tissue that was surgically removed
* Eight underwent fecal diversion surgery
* Two required amputation because of flesh eating bacteria
* Three died

According to the FDA, SGLT2 inhibitors are FDA-approved for use with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.

The FDA issued a warning last year linking the extremely rare and life-threatening bacterial infection to SGLT2 inhibitors, which said between March 2013 and May 2018, 12 cases of infection were found.

All 12 cases required hospitalization and surgery. One resulted in death.

With the rise in cases, the FDA says that FG is still a newly identified safety concern in patients who receive SGLT2 inhibitors.

The study warns that physicians who prescribe the medication should be extremely aware of the possible complication with the treatment and maintain a "high index of suspicion to recognize it in its early stages."