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For those of you who do not use a pump or a pen, how long do you use a bottle of insulin? All the info from the manufacturers says to throw it out 30 days after you begin using it, but I'm wondering what the general reality is out there.

Our daughter is two years old. She uses such a small amount of insulin, that there is no way she will use an entire bottle within the 30-day window, before the insulin "expires" or becomes "contaminated."

She was dxd on Oct.6,2008, and so far we have thrown out 4 almost full bottles of insulin, 2 Novolog and 2 Lantus.

When I think about all the people in the world who do not have access to insulin, it makes me sick to throw it out. But I don't want to keep using it, if it won't do her any good anyway.

Is there a way to get the unused insulin to people who need it? Isn't old insulin better than no insulin at all?

On a related note, is there any way the manufacturers could make smaller bottles, so there would not be so much wasted by people like us? I have a feeling that answer is all about money. Smaller bottles mean smaller profits to the manufacturers?? Maybe I am being too cynical?

Anyway, I would love to hear any and all thoughts and suggestions any of you may have.
Thank you so much. I am so thankful for this site.
I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year.
Tonya Homme

Tags: insulin, insulin expiration, unused insulin

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would it work to use the Novolog 3 ml penfill size ??...just a thought !....I am an adult pumper and use about 23 u daily , so do not have the same concern as you have with your little one . One suggstion ( not from a medical person ) I read on a Lantus blog : keep the bottle in the fridge , fill your needle ,return bottle to fridge , leave needle at room temperature , till is required. Bottle in fridge should last longer than 28 days ...worth experimenting ????
Good luck .
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I will have to check out the Novolog pen...I have been reluctant to try it because I heard you have to hold it in for 6-10 seconds, which can be kinda tough with a squirmy 2-yr-old.

Do you happen to remember how much longer than 28 days the Lantus blog said it would last?
We keep our Lantus in the fridge at all times, and return it to the fridge immediately after filling her syringe, so I wonder how long they think the Lantus is good for?... Thanks again, Tonya
Dear Tonya.

I used the last few drops from my vial today but i did not quite get enough for a full dose so I am not 100% sure if the effect was because of the slighly lowered dose or less because of lost potency. I just started on a new bottle today but I am willing to leave it say 31 days and try to see how the potency is.

An other approach may be to find a diabetic in your near proximity that needs a lot of Latus per day say at least 50 units or more and give him the bottle after you have used it 14 days and let him use the remaining balance. Similarily the high user would start a bottle for 14 days and then give you the remainder. Since a total of 2 bottles were purchase to satisfy both patients for the 28 day period. Without the arrangement a the person using the least would have had to purchase 1 vial and the person using the most would of have to have purchase 1.4 vials to cover his 28 day need. That would require a total of 2.4 vials instead of 2 for a saving of 0.4 vial. Then if you split this saving of 0,4 vial in two . The small user pays for 0.8 of a vial and the large user pays for 1.2 vial and it is a win win. Dont know what it costs in the states but this could be profitable and not too complex arrangement. Of course a larger usage by the high user would result even better savings.
Hi Anthony,

Great idea from a problem solving point of view, but I thought vial sharing is a huge no no....

Unless everyone uses a brand new sterilized syringe every time, it's technicall like sharing a syringe.

I personally wouldn't do that.


I go through 70 units of Lantus a day using the pen. You do have to hold it in longer and it is kind of intimidating looking, it might scare a child at first. I run out every 20 days since my insurance won't cover more then that, so I have to re up on my insulin every 20 days instead of once a month. That gets pricey. Since I don't want to waste any, I syphon the remains of each vial with a syringe. My pharmasist doesn't condone it, but I need to save where I can.
Tonya , maybe I did not make myself clear about the " penfill size " ...I was thinking of drawing the insulin from that particular size( pen ) , rather than using the pen for delivery .
I googled " Lantus insulin size bottle " and found a blog " does insulin really last only 30 days " ...I also noticed it being several years ago , that anyone responded.
I noticed some other folks , that have responded have some experience with Lantus ...keep us in the loop , if you have found something that works for you !
Dear People . Instructions are adamant they say throw away after 28 days fridge or no fridge.
I got told it can stay out at room temp for 30 days, and then after that it needs to stay in the fridge if you still want to use it. Just make sure you roll it in your hands when you take it out of the fridge to warm it up before you inject with it or it burns.
Dear Cody. No
I have an unusual form of diabetes and also use very small amounts of insulin. My insurer won't cover pens which is really frustrating, as I can make 5 pens (one order) last 5 months. But it costs me more than five times as much to buy the 5 pens as a single vial, so it's a pain.

I have found the following helpful for keeping insulin alive longer than 1 month.

1. Keep it refrigerated on the lowest shelf in the fridge and only take it out when preparing injections. (Do not store it in the butter compartment or the door if it is a newer fridge with large door shelves. The vibration when the door closes can ruin the insulin). Check the temperature of the fridge to make sure it isn't too cold as freezing also can harm the insulin.

2. NEVER reuse needles. I have tried all the techniques for reusing needles and they ALL seem to harm the insulin.

3. Don't inject air into the vial for each shot until it gets hard to remove insulin, then just stick a syringe without the plunger into the vial to let the air in. .

4. After six weeks, if you see any unexpected increase in blood sugar, change vials. But as long as blood sugars are performing properly, you can use it. Also, when you start a new vial after using an old vial, dial down the dose a bit, just in case you have been using weakened insulin and increasing the dose a bit without noticing it. Often a new vial will be stronger than even a month old vial, so caution is always in order when you change vials.

5. Try Apidra. but only if your doctor thinks it appropriate I have found Apidra the one insulin that never fades out over time even when not refrigerated. I kept one Apirdra pen alive for 3 months last summer when I was eating very low carb and using little insulin and have yet to throw away a drop. The only issue with Apidra is that it is a bit faster than other insulins, so it may or may not be appropriate for children. It is the insulin a lot of people use in pumps because of its stability. I find it covers food better than any other insulin because it peaks at an hour, but that varies from person to person.

I have kept Novolog pens going until they were all used up (7 weeks) BUT I have also killed them by carrying them in my purse on warm days.

6. I have experimented with transferring insulin into a vial I purchased, but it went bad very fast. My pharmacist told me he thinks they do something special to the insulin vials to preserve it. If your pharmacy can order empty insulin vials for you, which are used for diluting insulin, you might try that. I have heard of this happening, and perhaps a compounding pharmacy could do it. My local ones won't.

Hope some of these ideas help!
Thanks for mentioning not keeping insulin in the refrigerator door. That's where I keep mine & didn't know about vibration harming it.

Appreciate all the suggestions. Fortunately, I never go through a bottle when it's due to expire & I hate throwing it away.
Dear Jenny.

Great points:

1) As a former Chemical Engineer I worry at lot about any mechanical action on a complex long molecule as insulin you wonder if like polymers used for flocculation they can be rendered inactive by being rolled up in a ball by too much turbulance. Jenny if you have any references to this I would gladly like to read then and show them to my Endo who is quite open mided but said nonsense to hydrodynamics being a problem. A collorary would be to discharge your syringue as slowly as possible because barreling it out a the speed of sound may also be unkind to the insulin.

2) you wonder if I am being cheap by drawing a double dosage from the vial injection half and storing the other half in the fridge until it is needed next day. What do you think, with Lantus could this be insanity?

3) great advice if you use a little per day but at 50 units more difficult. Plus I will forget to add air and will then swear when it does not come out.

5) Fast would be good for postprandial or whatever corrections. Will see if it is available in Canada.




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