To refrigerate or NOT to refrigerate?

I was told by the nurse at my PCP’s office to keep my Lantus pens and Hummalog pens refrigerated at all times; however, the package inserts with both says to only refrigerate “unopened” pens and keep the pens in use at room temp or below 85degrees (F) and to also take new pens out of refrigeration a few hours before using. I do use an ice pack if I know I will be carrying my pens in temps above 75.
I have been following the package directions because the cold insulin often burned when I injected it. I haven’t had any problems keeping my pens at room temp but I do sometimes worry that it might go bad. If you use pens, how do you store them?

I don’t use pens but I keep my current bottle of humulog in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and I haven’t had any problems yet.

i don’t use pens either but i have always kept my unopened bottles of insulin in the fridge. when i pull one out to use, i put it in my medicine cabinet until i finish it, throw it away, and pull a new one out of the fridge. i have never had a problem doing that… i’ve done it that way for almost 20 years now. :slight_smile:

I refrigerate my Novolog pens and they last 2 months (I use tiny doses). I’m refrigerating a Levemir pen now and am curious how long I can make it last. I’ve been using it a month and it is still going strong.

The manufacturers want you to buy more insulin so of course they tell you to keep it warm. That kills it by the end of the month!

I have killed novolog pens in the past carrying them around in my purse. I’m not sure if it is the heat or the bouncing around. Both are bad for insulin.

When I used pens, I kept my long acting insulin pen in the fridge, and my rapid acting insulin in my purse. After all, I wasn’t about to run home to take a shot during working lunch hours and if I went out for dinners.

Insulin lasts for about a month as long as you don’t freeze it or let it get ‘cooked’ like I did one time when I left my purse in a hot car for a hour! So if you want to keep your humalog at room temperature, go for it. Just toss it after 27 days and put in a new cartridge. I used to go through a whole cartridge easily, so it wasn’t a problem.

You might want to check out “Frio” packs - they work great for keeping your insulin or insulin pen cool in hot temperatures.

My son is fairly new dx’d and we was told to leave opened Novalog and Lantus at room temp.
They told us that cold insulin stings. But in doing this we do end up wasting alot of insulin as once it is opened and left at room temp we were told to dispose after 30 days. We do store unopened in the fridge.
But after thinking about it I’m not sure why we don’t at least leave the Lantus in the fridge and bring only what he uses nightly to room temp. We use vials at the moment. If we do this how long would the Lantus last?

The reason for open bottle to keep at room temp is to keep insulin particle separate. When you refrigerate insulin particle clumps together and for the same dose you might get lower sugar from refrigerated insulin than insulin from room temp.

Yes, the cold insulin does sting! When I was first put on insulin in Feb, I was given samples with no package inserts and the nurse said to keep it cold, either in the refrigerator or in a small cooler with an ice pack when away from home. When I got my prescription filled and was glancing at the insert I noticed it said not to refrigerate opened pens. I keep them at room temp now and no more stinging! I also usually finish both by the 28th day.
I’m still learning and trying to get all of this figured out :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for your advice and info!

I use pens (for now – my pump was just shipped today and I expect to get it in about 5 days)…I keep new pens in the fridge, but once I use them I keep them at room temperature.

Incidentally, I was in the hospital last week and they insisted on giving me their insulin – their pens actually have stickers that say DO NOT REFRIGERATE.

i leave unopened pen cartridges in the fridge, once i pop a cartridge in a pen, i carry it with me, or as in the case of my lantus, it is in the medicine cabinet. i use both my lantus and novolog within the time limit and have never had it go bad on me. it all depends on how much you use. since i use 24 units of lantus a night, and am a 1/10 ratio for the novolog, it doesn’t last long in the pens!

I don’t use pens now,but I used to before I got a pump.I always kept my pens on the counter.I don’t know if cold insulin would make an injection burn because when I bolus the insulin being injected from the pump can sometimes sting.

I agree with what most are saying here. Keep the unopened stuff cold but not the one you are using. I use both Lantus and Novolog and keep both “in use” vials at room temp. All other vials are in the fridge.

I keep unopened bottles in fridge. Once I open them, I put the date on them so that I know when 30 days is up and should start a brand new bottle.

My sample of Apidra has been unrefrigerated for more than a month now and it is still as effective as when it was opened.

I would not throw out any insulin until I detected a change in its activity. Some insulins are much more robust than others as far as survival. I don’t dispose of an insulin until I see higher than expected readings after 2 or 3 uses.

I never even thought about getting the cartridges and drawing from them. That is an excellent idea. We are wasting alot on insulin. Sometimes as much as a half bottle at the end of 30 days. We do have insurance that picks up most of the cost but any little bit of money we can save…

If insulin is kept in the fridge unopened how long will it last? I admit I like to keep extra on hand but don’t want it to expire on us.


I draw from pens with a syringe because I use such small doses, but a the cartridges and pens are sold in packs of 5 and are MUCH more expensive than a couple vials. I have insurance, but it won’t pay for either pens or syringe without an appeal from my doctor. For now, the doctor has been giving me samples, since the office staff hate doing the appeals and she has a lot of samples. I can make one 30 ml pen last two months.

I keep my insulin (Novolog and Lantus) in the fridge until I need them. Then they go into by “diabetic debris” bag in my purse. I make sure to keep my purse in a/c (I am in Houston) and if I can’t, the insulin vials go into a cooler where they can at least stay room temp. Of course, yesterday I put my whole “diabetic debris” bag in a cooler while I rode in the Art Car Parade and it fell into the bottom of the cooler with all of the ice and water was. Sigh. Fried a meter, but my insulin was fine. I also use my insulin until I’m done, which is always more than 28 days. I pay VERY close attention to my bg levels toward the end of a vial, though. I’ve never had any problems. It’s sad that insulin is so expensive that we all try our best to make it last longer.

For the past 46+ years, I’ve always kept my Insulin of all kinds
in the fridge, open or not and I certainly haven’t suffered any by it.
It usually lasts about 45 days for me. It could be longer but I run
out by that point so ya it’s empty. The 28 days is just so the
company is not responsible if it doesn’t last longer than 28 days
plus the other point Jenny said which I won’t repeat. :D.

If on occasion,(like Mar/07–3 day highs), my sugars are higher than
usual for some reason and I can’t get them down I certainly do open
a new bottle, but that’s rarely the reason.

When I go out for a few hours, I put a semi-frozen juice box in a plastic
lunch bag with my Insulin beside it in my purse.

I’ve had pain with both cold and warm Insulin and I’ve also had no pain
with both, like everyone else. Go figure. Personally, I think it’s those
widespread nerve endings throughout the body in the superficial skin
layers, in certain internal tissues and maybe the capillaries also. Some
days you hit them, some days you don’t.

Anyways, both ways are used so it’s whatever you are more comfortable

Kristy, I use two pens: one Levemir and one Apidra.

Both pens only require refrigeration for the unopened cartridges/pens. When in doubt, call the manufacturer.

The first time I read the Apidra package insert, I thought I misunderstood the guideline for refrigeration and I called the number listed on the insert. The company’s representative nurse confirmed that I should, in fact, only refrigerate the unopened cartridges.

Hope this helps