August 29, 2013

Proper Insulin Storage and Handling

Guidelines for Insulin Storage and Handling Courtesy of Novo Nordisk, this handout covers what every patient and medical professional needs to know about the proper storage and handling of insulin products. Novo Storage/Handling Guidelines for Insulin Clicking on the link will download a PDF file for Australia and New Zealand.  I strongly urge you to read the information that comes with your insulin vials or pens.

#1. Store your insulin in the refrigerator (2º- 8ºC) (36º- 46ºF), away from the freezer or freezing coils. In my Novolog box the pamphlet states that unopened vials that have not been frozen, may be used until the expiration date on the Novolog label.

#2. You can keep the insulin you are using out of the refrigerator for up to one month if kept below 25º C (77º F). This avoids stinging when injecting cold insulin. Note: The pamphlet in my box of Novolog states room temperature below 86ºF (30ºC). It also advised throwing away opened vials after 28 days of use, even if there is insulin left in the vial.

#3. Before storing your cloudy insulin in the refrigerator, gently shake the vial, cartridge or prefilled device to resuspend any settled insulin. Clear insulins do not need to be shaken before storage. Store the cartons on their side.

#4. Do not expose your insulin to excessive heat or sunlight.

#5. Do not freeze your insulin. Never use insulin that has been frozen.

#6. Never use an insulin vial that has had the cap remove, except by you. The 28 days of use starts when you remove the insulin vial cap.

#1. Prior to use, your cloudy insulin vials should be resuspended by gently rolling the vial between the palms of the hands and/or moving the insulin up and down 10 times to make sure the insulin is well mixed. Always refer to the instructions provided with the insulin and injection device.

#2. If you draw up more than the required amount of insulin from a vial, do not squirt the excess insulin back into the vial, as this may contaminate the vial with syringe lubricant.

#1. When traveling keep your insulin cartons in as cool a place as possible. Check out these Frio packs at Amazon  and this site for Frio packs.

#2. Storage of insulin in a small insulated container is advisable to protect the insulin from extremes of temperature.

#3. Carry at least twice your calculated insulin requirements to allow for breakages etc. during your trip.

#4. Do not keep insulin vials or cartridges in the glove box of a car, as the high temperatures, which may occur especially in summer, may damage insulin. In the winter, you should also protect your insulin from freezing.

#5. Any supplies should be divided and transported in different pieces of hand luggage, so that if one piece of luggage is mislaid, supplies are still available.

#6. Remember that insulin should not be stored in luggage that will enter the hold of an aircraft as the insulin may freeze during the flight and its action may be altered.

#7. Contact Novo Nordisk Customer Care Centre regarding the availability of your insulin overseas, since exact equivalents are not always available. In the US the telephone number is 1-800-727-6500. They should be able to answer most questions and give you telephone numbers for the areas outside the US you will be traveling.

Do not use any vial or cartridge if:
#1. The clear soluble insulin has turned cloudy.

#2. The expiry date has been reached as shown on the vial, cartridge or prefilled device label and carton.

#3. The insulin has been frozen or exposed to high temperatures.

#4. Lumps or flakes are seen in the insulin.

#5. The insulin is discolored.

#6. Deposits of insulin are seen on the inside of the vial, which remains after initial shaking.

The above are sound pointers of advice. I did add a few items from my own pamphlet and if you are using insulin from other companies, please read the pamphlet contained in their insulin box. In the US, currently the designation for our insulin is U-100. Some pharmacies also carry U-500 so be careful as this is about five times more potent. Do not substitute U-500 for U-100 except under directions of a doctor. Outside the US you may encounter U-200, U-300, or even U-400, in addition to U-100 and U-500.

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