How Lengthy Do Insulin Pens Final?

Need assistance navigating life with diabetes? You’ve got come to the proper place! Ask D’Mine is our weekly recommendation column, hosted by veteran sort 1 and diabetes writer Wil Dubois.

This week, Wil’s speaking expiration dates for some key diabetes provides. Learn on… 

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Tammy, sort 2 from New York, writes:I do know this must be simple arithmetic, however I’m confused about what number of days my insulin pen ought to final. Are you able to inform me how one can determine this out? Additionally, while you take away the cap does the countdown on its helpful life begin, even for those who don’t use it? One final thing: I normally find yourself with some leftover in the direction of the tip of the pen, however not sufficient to make up my subsequent dose. I’ve been simply tossing it and opening one other pen, however I hate losing it. Any ideas?

Wil@Ask D’Mine solutions: Pleased to assist. It may be complicated with all of the completely different strengths of insulin these days, and all the varied pens on the market in the marketplace. That mentioned, you’ll be able to simply work out what number of days a pen will final you with some super-simple math and by understanding simply three issues: The power of the juice within the pen, the scale of the pen in query, and your every day dose. 

Energy is the variety of models of insulin per millimeter of fluid, expressed in “U/mL” on the pen’s label, field, and paperwork. In right now’s world we’ve got insulin that’s 100 U/mL, 200 U/mL, 300 U/mL, and 500 U/mL. Oh, and veterinary insulin for cats and canines that’s 40 U/mL. To make issues worse, some model names of insulin are available in a couple of power. As an illustration, Tresiba is available in each 100 U/mL and 200 U/mL variations!

As you’ll be able to see, your insulin might range. So verify your pen fastidiously. 

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Subsequent, it is advisable to know the scale of the pen, when it comes to the quantity of liquid it holds. Once more, consult with the pen’s label, field, or paperwork. Most pens maintain three mL, however not all. Toujeo is one exception with its customary SoloStar pen holding just one.5 mL, additional confused by the truth that there’s additionally a three mL Toujeo pen referred to as the Max SoloStar. There are in all probability different oddball-sized pens that slipped on the market too; I believed I’d learn someplace a few 2 mL pen, however now I can’t discover it—however it doesn’t actually matter. All that issues is that you just learn the label to know the scale of the pen you might be utilizing.

Lastly, your every day dose is in your prescription. It’s what your doc informed you to take.

Then, all ya gotta do is multiply the power of your insulin by the quantity of your pen and divide by your dose. It sounds worse than it’s. Consider me. Everyone agrees.  

As an illustration, if the insulin was a standard 100 U/mL (a.ok.a. U-100), and the pen a typical three mL, then you definitely simply take 100 and multiply by three to get 300 models within the pen. That is the full quantity of the pen, in models. If you happen to divide your every day dose into the 300, you’ll learn how many days your pen will final you. Naturally, for those who take two doses a day, it is advisable to add these two collectively to get the full dose for the day earlier than you divide that into the full variety of models within the pen.

After all, for those who use small doses, a pen may “go bad” earlier than you should utilize it up. However this too, varies so much. Most trendy insulins final between a month and 6 weeks at room temperature, as soon as in use, relying on the model and kind. As soon as once more, I’ve to ship you to the paperwork for the insulin you utilize. And be verrrrrrry cautious about making an attempt to stretch it longer. Insulin is a protein, like meat, and also you wouldn’t eat a steak that was unnoticed on the counter for overly lengthy, would you? Oh, and don’t fear about pulling the cap off. The clock doesn’t begin operating on an insulin pen till you breach the rubber seal on the pen’s tip with the primary needle.

In the meantime, I agree with you that—like a thoughts—insulin is a horrible factor to waste. Each as a result of it’s frickin’ costly and since each time you maintain a pen in your hand you recognize that someplace on the earth somebody is definitely dying as a result of she or he doesn’t have sufficient insulin — each within the Third World and proper right here at house. You may keep away from wastage, assuming the insulin isn’t past its helpful life, by taking a break up shot to make use of up each drop of insulin. Right here’s the attractive factor: An insulin pen is designed to not allow you to dial up any greater than what’s left within the cartridge.

Once you get right down to the tip, notice how a lot is left, shoot it up, then take no matter variety of models you had been quick utilizing the subsequent pen. Heck, you’ll be able to even transfer the needle over to the brand new pen and re-use it yet another time. 


This isn’t a medical recommendation column. We’re PWDs freely and brazenly sharing the knowledge of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that data from the trenches. Backside line: You continue to want the recommendation and care of a licensed medical skilled.

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