Aims/hypothesis: The evidence on the association between pioglitazone use and bladder cancer is contradictory, with many studies subject to allocation bias. The aim of our study was to examine the effect of exposure to pioglitazone on bladder cancer risk internationally across several cohorts. The potential for allocation bias was minimised by focusing on the cumulative effect of pioglitazone as the primary endpoint using a time-dependent approach.
Methods: Prescription, cancer and mortality data from people with type 2 diabetes were obtained from six populations across the world (British Columbia, Finland, Manchester, Rotterdam, Scotland and the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink). A discrete time failure analysis using Poisson regression was applied separately to data from each centre to model the effect of cumulative drug exposure on bladder cancer incidence, with time-dependent adjustment for ever use of pioglitazone. These were then pooled using fixed and random effects meta-regression.
Results: Data were collated on 1.01 million persons over 5.9 million person-years. There were 3,248 cases of incident bladder cancer, with 117 exposed cases and a median follow-up duration of 4.0 to 7.4 years. Overall, there was no evidence for any association between cumulative exposure to pioglitazone and bladder cancer in men (rate ratio [RR] per 100 days of cumulative exposure, 1.01; 95% CI 0.97, 1.06) or women (RR 1.04; 95% CI 0.97, 1.11) after adjustment for age, calendar year, diabetes duration, smoking and any ever use of pioglitazone. No association was observed between rosiglitazone and bladder cancer in men (RR 1.01; 95% CI 0.98, 1.03) or women (RR 1.00; 95% CI 0.94, 1.07).
Conclusions/interpretation: The cumulative use of pioglitazone or rosiglitazone was not associated with the incidence of bladder cancer in this large, pooled multipopulation analysis.