Storage of Insulin and Other Diabetes Medications

I still hear from quite a few patients who say they don’t carry their insulin with them because they believe it must be refrigerated.

To refrigerate or not?

So let me emphasize this right here: The insulin you are currently using does not need to be refrigerated.

Perhaps the confusion about this rests with the fact that your insulin probably comes refrigerated from the pharmacy. But after you bring it home and have opened it, you yourself don’t need to continue keeping it in the fridge.

Likewise, other injectable diabetes medications--including exenatide (brand name Byetta) and pramlintide (brand name Symlin)--don’t have to be kept cold either, once opened. Any additional insulin vials and pens that you receive from the pharmacy will have to be refrigerated until you open them, but once you start using them, you don’t have to keep them cold any longer.

How to store your insulin

Insulin and other injectable medications can lose potency if they’re not properly stored. Let’s review some of the storage guidelines for insulin.

  • Vials and pens that you are currently using can be stored at room temperature. This is a good thing, since injecting insulin when it’s cold can make the injection more painful or cause a local irritation around the site.
  • Insulin that is not in use--that is, insulin that you've not yet opened--should be refrigerated at a temperature between 36 degrees F and 46 degrees F.
  • If insulin ever gets frozen, throw it out; it loses its potency.
  • Once opened, insulin actually expires anywhere from 14-28 days, depending on the type of insulin it happens to be. Most opened vials of insulin can be stored at room temp for 28 days. Insulin pens and other injectable medications can be stored, once opened, at room temperature for anywhere from 14 days to 28 days, depending on the type of insulin.
  • Always check the expiration date on your insulin’s box or vial. Do not use that batch of insulin (or of any medicine) if it’s past that date.

Get the most effectiveness from your medications by storing them properly. If you have any questions about storage, call your doctor or pharmacist today.


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