What is Fournier’s gangrene?

Fournier Gangrene Text and StethoscopeGangrene is a medical condition that occurs when your body’s tissue dies. Fournier’s gangrene is a rare type of gangrene that begins in your genitals and the area around them, but that can spread to other parts of the body. Men, women, and children can develop Fournier’s gangrene, but it is most common among men.

Immediate medical treatment is required to treat Fournier’s gangrene. Without it, the condition can be fatal. Therefore, there are some essential facts that you should know about Fournier’s gangrene—especially if you take an SGLT2 inhibitor such as Invokana to control your diabetes.

Fournier’s Gangrene Symptoms and Diagnosis

Fournier’s gangrene begins as an infection of the scrotum, penis, or perineum, which can spread to other areas like the thighs, stomach, chest, and bloodstream.

Symptoms of Fournier’s gangrene which require immediate medical attention include:

  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Swelling
  • An unpleasant or rotten smell
  • Skin that turns a reddish-purple or a blue-gray color
  • Popping or crackling of the skin when it is touched
  • Rapid heartbeat

If your doctor suspects Fournier’s gangrene after a physical exam, then your doctor will likely take a tissue sample that will be sent to a lab for testing. Additionally, blood tests and medical imaging tests, such as an MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, or x-ray, may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Fournier’s Gangrene Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment for Fournier’s gangrene includes:

  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics are a necessary part of treatment for Fournier’s gangrene, but antibiotics are not enough to resolve the condition on their own.
  • Surgeries. Surgery, and often multiple surgeries, are required to remove the dead tissue. Reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts may also be necessary.

Even with treatment, however, the condition may be fatal. Many people who survive the infection will live with chronic pain and sexual difficulties.

Warnings Issued About Some Diabetes Medications

Most people live their entire lives without ever getting Fournier’s gangrene. When the condition does occur, it can happen because of a bladder infection, urinary tract infection, or hysterectomy.

In December 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public that Fournier’s gangrene occurs more frequently among people taking SGLT2 inhibitors than other diabetes medications. Specifically, the FDA received:

  • Twelve reports of Fournier’s gangrene among patients taking SGLT2 inhibitors over a five-year period, from March 2013-March 2018. Seven of the 12 reported cases were men and five were women. All 12 patients developed Fournier’s gangrene within months of starting an SGLT2 inhibitor. Additionally, all 12 patients were hospitalized and required one or more surgeries. One patient died.
  • Six other cases of Fournier’s gangrene among people taking medication to treat diabetes over a thirty-year period. All six patients were men.

Accordingly, the FDA required that a new warning be added to the prescribing information and patient medication guide of all SGLT2 inhibitors, including Invokana.

A study published in the June 4, 2019, Annals of Internal Medicine, also found an increased risk of Fournier’s gangrene among people with diabetes who were taking SGLT2 medications. Researchers identified 55 cases of people who developed Fournier’s gangrene while taking SGLT2 inhibitors from March 1, 2013 through January 31, 2019. In comparison, only 19 cases of Fournier’s gangrene were reported among people who took other drugs to control diabetes from 1984 through January 31, 2019.

Fournier’s Gangrene Lawsuits

If you have been diagnosed with Fournier’s gangrene or if your loved one has died from this disease while taking Invokana or another diabetes medication in the SGLT2 family, then you may be entitled to a legal recovery.

You may be able to recover for all of your medical expenses, lost income, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other costs. However, you will have to fight for your fair recovery, and your time to pursue a drug injury lawsuit is limited by law.

We don’t want you to leave any compensation on the table. You’ve already suffered enough. Let our experienced attorneys provide you with a free and honest review of your claim. Schedule your free consultation by starting a live chat with us now or calling us at any time.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer