Learning How to Store Insulin Products

How to Store Insulin Products

Manufacturers recommend storing insulin in the refrigerator between 35 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit. However, for most patients, injecting cold insulin is more painful than injecting room temperature insulin. Because of this, providers and manufacturers recommend storing the vial or pen of insulin that you are using at room temperature. Most insulin lasts 10-42 days when it is stored at room temperature (for specific expiration dates, please see Table 1 below). Do not use insulin that has been out of the refrigerator longer than the days listed in the table.  It loses its effectiveness.  This may cause your blood sugars to be higher and lead to inappropriate dosing increases.

If you are buying multiple insulin vials or pens at one time, only keep the vial or pen that you are currently using at room temperature. Keep the other insulin vials or pens in the refrigerator. When stored in the refrigerator they will not expire until the date on the product packaging (not on the prescription label). When you are ready to use the next insulin vial or pen, take it out of the refrigerator one or two hours early. This will allow the insulin to warm up before it’s time to inject.  It will not be harmful to you to inject cold insulin, it just may not be as comfortable.

Insulin should not be stored in extreme heat or cold. Avoid keeping insulin in your car, in the freezer, or near a window in direct sunlight where it may be subject to extreme temperatures.

It is important that you check the expiration date listed on the vial or on the pen before injecting your insulin. Do not use any insulin that is beyond its expiration date because this insulin may not work properly which may cause complications.

After confirming that the insulin is not expired and is at room temperature, visually check the insulin itself before you inject. Some insulins should look clear and some are supposed to be gently mixed by rolling it in your hands and will look cloudy. Do not shake the insulin to mix as shaking will damage the insulin. No insulin should have solid particles, clumps, or be discolored. If the insulin contains solid particles, clumps, or is discolored, do not use the insulin and follow proper disposal protocols of unused medications. The table below lists which insulins are clear and which are cloudy. If you are unsure ask your pharmacist, diabetes educator or health care provider.

Table 1: Expiration Dates of Various Insulin Products

Product Name Product Type Expiration if Stored at Room Temperature (up to 86̊°F) Clear or Cloudy?
Rapid-Acting Insulin Products
Humalog Vial

Cartridge

KwikPen

28 days

28 days

28 days

Clear
Novolog Vial

Cartridge

FlexPen

Pump

28 days

28 days

28 days

6 days

Clear
Apidra Vial

SoloStar Pen

28 days (only up to 77°F)

28 days (only up to 77°F)

Clear
Short-Acting Insulin Products
Regular

Humulin

Humulin U-500

 

Novolin

 

Vial

Vial

Pen

Vial

Pen

 

28 days

40 days

28 days

42 days (only up to 77°F)

28 days

 

Clear

Clear

 

Clear

Intermediate-Acting Insulin Products
NPH

Humulin

 

Novolin

 

Vial

Pen

Vial

Pen

 

28 days

14 days

42 days (only up to 77°F)

14 days

 

Cloudy

 

Cloudy

Insulin Mixtures
70/30 (NPH/Regular)

Humulin 70/30

 

Novolin 70/30

 

Vial

Pen

Vial

Pen

 

28 days

10 days

42 days (only up to 77°F)

10 days

 

Cloudy

 

Cloudy

Humalog Mix 50/50 Vial

KwikPen

28 days

10 days

Cloudy
Humalog Mix 75/25 Vial

KwikPen

28 days

10 days

Cloudy
Novolog Mix 70/30 Vial

FlexPen

28 days

14 days

Cloudy
Long-Acting Insulin Products
Lantus Vial

Cartridge

SoloStar Pen

28 days

28 days

28 days

Clear
Levemir Vial

FlexPen

42 days

42 days

Clear
Toujeo Solostar Pen 42 days Clear
Tresiba FlexTouch Pen 56 days Clear

This Article is Brought to you By Our Guest Staff Writers:
Jacqueline Garner, PharmD Candidate 2017, MCPHS University
Jacob Oleck, Pharm.D. Fellow, MCPHS University
Jennifer Goldman, Pharm.D., CDE, BC-ADM, FCCP‎‎
Professor of Pharmacy, MCPHS University Clinical Pharmacist, Well Life Medical.

 

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