How Long Should You Keep Your Open Insulin Vials?

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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With so many different insulin and insulin-like products out there these days it can be hard to keep track of when your vial should be tossed.

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

You might think it is wasteful to throw out what you may consider “perfectly good insulin,” but using the medication past the recommended time can actually do you more harm than good.

You may notice that if you continue to use insulin from a vial past the manufacturers discard date, your blood glucose could 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 the recommendations for how long they keep varies.

For a quick overview, the different categories of insulin are:

So how long can you hold on to your insulin after you start using a vial?

Rapid-acting insulin

Short-acting insulin

Intermediate-acting insulin

Long-acting insulin

Other injectable diabetes medications in vials

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