Instructions on insulin vials or pens indicate that they should be stored, unopened, at temperatures of 35.6° F-46.4°F. Once the vial or pen is opened/punctured the insulin can be stored at room temperature 77°F-86°F for up to 28 days. As we hear more and more about social inequities, researchers took it upon themselves to determine how safe insulin would be if not maintained per manufacturer recommendations in climates such as northern Kenya where temperatures fluctuate between 77°F at night and 98.6°F during the day.
After a 28-day exposure to the oscillating temperatures, as well as for ≤12 weeks, there were no differences in the physical structure, bioactivity, or appearance of insulin in vials or cartridges compared with insulin stored at recommended temperatures. “This shows it’s possible for the patient to treat themselves during the 4 weeks without having to put the insulin back in the fridge. If the temperature is oscillating, that’s not a problem”, senior author Leonardo Scapozza, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical biochemistry/chemistry at the University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
It is important to remember that although this study is promising in areas of the world where insulin storage is a huge obstacle to self-care, it is important to maintain current recommendations for insulin pumps, replacing every 3 days and that freezing insulin is the worst thing to do as it deactivates within one day. Stay well, mask as appropriate and stay tuned!