Storage instructions for insulin aren’t simply indicative. They’re absolutely essential. Your diabetes management depends on it.
So, let’s make sure we all know how to refrigerate and store our Novolog pens and vials at home.
Related article: Does Insulin Need to Be Refrigerated? How to Store it Correctly?
What is Novolog?Novolog is a brand name for insulin aspart, a fast-acting insulin used to control blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who require insulin therapy.
It is a rapid-acting insulin analog commonly called mealtime insulin or bolus insulin. It starts working within 5 to 15 minutes after injection and reaches its maximum effect within 1 to 3 hours to help control the rise in blood sugar after eating.
Related article: A Beginner’s Guide to Basal and Bolus Insulin.
Like all types of insulin, Novolog is injected subcutaneously (under the skin) and only available under medical prescription.
Novolog Flexpen and vialsNovolog insulin is available as an injectable solution in vials and pre-filled autoinjector pens. The Novolog vials contain a clear solution of insulin aspart in 10 mL multi-dose vials. They must be used with insulin syringes that are graduated in insulin units.
The Novolog pre-filled pens come in 3 mL or 1.5 mL cartridges. In the United States, different injector pens are available for Novolog, including the Novolog Flexpen (disposable) and the NovoPen Echo (rechargeable with Novolog cartridges).
Novolog is also available in combination with long-acting insulin, marketed as NovoLog Mix (70/30), a premixed insulin containing insulin aspart and aspart protamine (with a prolonged time of action).
Related article: The Ultimate Guide to Insulin Pen Needle Types and Sizes!
Insulin aspart also exists in a newer formulation marketed as Fiasp, which combines Novolog insulin with niacinamide (vitamin B3) that speeds up insulin absorption to make ultra-fast-acting insulin.
Does Novolog Need to Be Refrigerated?Whatever the format you take Novolog (vials or pens), the medicine inside is sensitive to heat and light. Like any insulin, Novolog needs to be refrigerated.
All types of insulin are human-made proteins that quickly spoil when not correctly stored. When it starts spoiling, Novolog gradually loses its potency and becomes partially or totally inefficient at lowering blood sugars.
Therefore, knowing how to store your Novolog, vials, or premixed insulin the right way is essential. Eventually, your diabetes management depends on it.
Related article: How you Should Store Your Lantus Pens at Home.
Novolog Storage InstructionsAccording to Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Novolog Flexpen, the Novolog PenFill cartridges and the Novolog vials must be stored as follows:
- Unused pens, cartridges, or vials must be stored in the refrigerator between 36°F to 46°F (2°C - 8°C) or at room temperature maximum 86°F (30°C) for up to 28 days.
- In-use Novolog vials must be kept at room temperature (max 86°F (30°C)) or refrigerated for up to 28 days.
- In-use FlexPen and PenFill cartridges must be kept at room temperature for up to 28 days. These should not be put back in the refrigerator after opening.
Novolog Mix Storage InstructionsThe Novolog Mix 70/30 insulin is available in 10 mL vials and FlexPen injection device. Each has specific storage instructions.
Novolog Mix 70/30 FlexPens should not be refrigerated before first use. Instead, they must be stored at room temperature up to 86°F (30°C) for up to 14 days. Once opened, Novolog Mix 70/30 FlexPens can be kept at room temperature or refrigerated for up to 14 days.
Unused Novolog Mix 70/30 vials must be stored in the refrigerator between 36°F to 46°F (2°C - 8°C) until their expiration date. Alternatively, they can be kept at room temperature for 28 days. After first use, the vials can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature but must be used within a maximum of 28 days.
Related article: How to Calculate Your Insulin Dose Correctly?
How Long is Novolog Good for After Opening?Novolog is good for 28 days after opening (except for the Novolog Mix 70/30 FlexPens that must be used within 14 days only).
During these 28 days, once a vial or pen of Novolog has been opened and used, it can be kept at room temperature, below 86°F (30°C). Refrigeration isn't required, but exposure to direct sunlight, extreme heat, and freezing temperatures must be avoided.
It is important to discard unused insulin after 28 days of use, even if some remains in the vial or pen. This is because the effectiveness and safety of Novolog cannot be guaranteed beyond this time frame. Therefore, we recommend writing the date of opening on the vial or pen and making sure you keep track of it.
If a Novolog vial or pen has been exposed to temperatures outside the recommended range, it should not be used.
Related article: Can you Freeze Insulin & What Happens If you Do?
How to tell if Novolog has gone bad?Novolog is a clear-looking insulin (as opposed to cloudy insulin). It’s a water-like liquid. Like all insulin products, Novolog should be visually inspected before each use to ensure the solution is clear, colorless, and free from particles.
Here are some signs that Novolog pens or vials may have gone bad or expired:
- Cloudy or discolored solution: If the Novolog solution appears cloudy, discolored, or contains particles, it may have degraded and should not be used.
- Unusual texture: If the Novolog solution appears to have clumps, crystals, or a grainy texture, it may have degraded and should not be used.
- Abnormal odor: If the insulin solution has a strange or unpleasant scent, it may have degraded and should not be used.
- Reduced effectiveness: If blood sugar levels remain high despite taking the usual dose of Novolog insulin, it may indicate that the medicine has lost its efficacy and should be discarded.
It’s different for Novolog Mix 70/30! This mixed insulin is a cloudy one. It should typically appear uniformly white and cloudy. Do not use it if it looks clear!
Related article: Clear vs. Cloudy Insulins: Why it Matters!
How to Travel with Novolog Insulin?When traveling with any type of insulin, including Novolog, the most important is to ensure that it is stored properly to maintain its stability and effectiveness. Unused pens or vials must be kept refrigerated, while in-use ones must be protected from heat when the outside temperature can reach 86°F (30°C).
Related article: The Ultimate Checklist for Traveling with Diabetes!
Novolog carrying cases
Whether you need to keep unused Novolog refrigerated or used Novolog protected from heat, 4AllFamily has the right cooling case. Our company has spent the last few years designing portable and reliable travel coolers for people whose life depends on temperature-sensitive medicines like Novolog.
The Voyager Travel Fridge keeps up to 7 Novolog pens refrigerated unlimitedly if plugged into a USB-power source, like a car cigarette lighter or a portable power bank. When you don't have electricity access, it can maintain fridge temperature (36-46°F / 2-8°C) for 30 hours! Besides, it's equipped with an integrated thermostat and a temperature display screen for more peace of mind.
Our Nomad Portable Cooler for Medications is a lightweight version. The medium one can fit 3 Novolog pens, whereas the big one can fit 7. They both work with biogel ice packs (included in the package). Depending on the model size and the outside temperature, the Nomad coolers can maintain fridge temperature for up to 30 hours and room temperature for up to 48 hours.
If the outside temperature is higher than 86°F (30°C), you must protect your in-use Novolog pens or vials from heat and ensure they stay at room temperature. In that case, our Companion Insulin Cooler Bag can keep 5 Novolog pens within the safe room temperature range of 36°F - 79°F (2 - 26°C) for 10 hours when the outside temperature is 104°F / 40°C!
More tips for traveling with Novolog
- Carry extra supplies: It is a good idea to bring extra Novolog pens, vials, syringes, needles, and supplies in case of unexpected delays or emergencies.
- Pack a prescription or letter from your doctor: It is recommended to carry a prescription or a letter from your doctor that explains your need for insulin and lists the specific insulin products you are carrying. This can be helpful if you are questioned by airport security or customs officials.
- Know the regulations: If you are traveling internationally, it is important to check the regulations for bringing insulin into the country you are visiting. For example, some countries may require special permits or restrict the amount of insulin you can bring.
- Be prepared for changes in time zones: If you are traveling across time zones, adjusting your insulin dosing schedule is important. Talk to your healthcare provider about adjusting your dosing schedule when traveling across time zones.
Related article: The Parent’s Guide to a Safe & Happy Childhood with Diabetes.
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