Once an insulin vial is punctured and open there is a limited amount of time that the vial can be stored before it becomes unsafe to use. Many people who use insulin will have left over medication in the vial because of the size of their daily dosages. Different insulin products have different time limits on being able to store it safely and it can be hard to track and remember.

Not all types of glucose will have the same expiration time on open vials. They not only vary by type but also by the drug used.

Here’s a help list to refer to for the proper length of time to store open (punctured) vials:

Long-Acting Insulin

Intermediate-Acting Insulin

Short-Acting Insulin

  • Novolin R: 42 days after opening
  • Humulin R: 31 days after opening
  • Humulin R U-500 concentrated: 31 days after opening

Rapid-Acting Insulin

  • Aspart (novolog): 28 days after opening
  • Glulisine (apidra): 28 days after opening
  • Lispro (humalog): 28 days after opening

Other Non-Insulin Injected Medication

  • Bydureon: use immediately once punctured and mixed. Do not store any unused portions.

Helpful Tips

  • Do not keep insulin in a hot space or overly warm room. Heat will break down the insulin and make it ineffective. Open vials can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  • Do not store insulin in sunlight. Direct light will also break down the insulin.
  • Look at your insulin vial before using it after storage. Insulin should always be clear, never cloudy in appearance. There should not be any white particles or solid crystals. Insulin that is not clear or that has a smell or odor should not be used and must be thrown away.

It may feel wasteful to throw away unused insulin when the recommended use time is reached. However, the medication loses its effectiveness past it’s storage date and will result in higher than normal blood glucose readings and endanger your health.

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