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How Long Should You Keep Insulin Pens?

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on May 5, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Did you read our blog on insulin vials and think to yourself, does this apply to my insulin pens too? If so, this post is for you!

With so many different insulin and insulin-like products out there these days it can be hard keep track of how long each of these pens stays good.

Depending on your dose, you may still have insulin left in your pen at the manufacturer-recommended time to throw it away. If this sounds like a familiar situation, know that it is important to throw away your pen regardless of whether you have any leftover.

You might think it’s wasteful, but using the medication past the recommended time can actually do you more harm than good.

You may notice if you continue to use insulin from a pen that’s past the manufacturers discard date, your blood glucose may be higher or a greater dose may be needed to achieve a normal blood glucose reading.

There are several different types of insulin and a variety of other injectable diabetes medications, and they don’t all have the same recommendations.

As a quick reminder, the different categories of insulin are:

  • Rapid-acting.
  • Short-acting (regular). There are no short-acting insulin pens available
  • Intermediate-acting.
  • Long-acting.

So how long can you hold on to your insulin pen after you start to use it?

Rapid-acting insulin

  • Novolog FlexPen: use within 28 days after first use
  • Novolog cartridge (for use in a re-useable pen): use within 28 days after first use
  • Humalog KwikPen: use within 28 days after first use
  • Humalog cartridge (for use in a re-useable pen): use within 28 days after in-use
  • Apidra SoloStar: use within 28 days after first use

Intermediate-acting insulin

  • Humulin N KwikPen: ise within 14 days after first use

Long-acting insulin

  • Lantus SoloStar: use within 28 days after first use
  • Toujeo SoloStar: use within 28 days after first use
  • Levemir FlexTouch: use within 42 days after first use

Other injectable diabetes medications in pens

  • Bydureon (single-dose pen): use immediately once the medication has been mixed
  • Byetta: pen should be discarded 30 days after initial use
  • SymlinPen: pen should be discarded 30 days after initial use
  • Tanzeum (single-dose pen): must use within 8 hours once the medication has been mixed
  • Trulicity (single-dose pen): each pen can be used until the expiration date on the carton
  • Victoza: pen should be discarded 30 days after initial use

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