To examine whether dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors (DPP-4I) increase acute pancreatitis risk in older patients and whether the association varies by age, sex, and history of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
We conducted a cohort study of DPP-4I initiators versus thiazolidinedione (TZD) or sulfonylurea initiators using U.S. Medicare beneficiaries, 2007–2014. Eligible initiators were aged 66 years or older without history of pancreatic disease or alcohol-related diseases. Patients were followed up for hospitalization due to acute pancreatitis and censored at 90 days after treatment changes. Weighted Cox models were used to estimate the hazard ratio (HR) for acute pancreatitis. Analyses were performed overall as well as within subgroups defined by age, sex, and CVD history.
We found no increased risk of acute pancreatitis comparing 49,374 DPP-4I initiators to 132,223 sulfonylurea initiators (weighted HR 1.01; 95% CI 0.83–1.24) and comparing 57,301 DPP-4I initiators to 32,612 TZD initiators (weighted HR 1.11; 95% CI 0.76–1.62). Age and sex did not modify the association. Among patients with CVD, acute pancreatitis incidence was elevated in initiators of DPP-4I and sulfonylurea (2.3 and 2.4 per 1,000 person-years, respectively) but not in TZD initiators (1.5). Among patients with CVD, higher risk of acute pancreatitis was observed with DPP-4I compared with TZD (weighted HR 1.84; 95% CI 1.02–3.35) but not compared with sulfonylurea.
Our study provides evidence that DPP-4I is not associated with an increased risk of acute pancreatitis in older adults overall. The positive association observed in patients with CVD could be due to chance or bias but merits further investigation.