Humira (Adalimumab) is one of the World’s best-selling drugs with more than 1.4 million users across the globe. Used to reduce symptoms of numerous inflammatory immune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, it comes in the form of self-injectable pens or prefilled syringes.
Like similar injectable liquid medicines such as Enbrel, Actemra, Cimzia, Orencia, or Simponi, Humira is temperature-sensitive and requires specific storage temperatures. When not stored properly, it quickly deteriorates, loses efficiency, and becomes unsafe for use. So, let’s dig in and answer all your questions about Humira storage and refrigeration!
A video version of this article is available at the bottom!
What is Humira?
Humira (Adalimumab) is a prescription medicine used to reduce the symptoms of various inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn's disease (CD), polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), ulcerative colitis (UC), chronic plaque psoriasis (Ps), and others. It’s produced by AbbVie, a research-based biopharmaceutical company.
Humira is a TNF-blocker. TNF (tumor necrosis factor) is a protein produced by the body's immune system. In some immune diseases like the ones mentioned above, the body mistakenly produces too much TNF which leads to inflammation. Humira works by blocking the TNF to reduce inflammation.
It’s a liquid injectable medicine that's administered by subcutaneous injection (under the skin with a very thin needle). It comes in the form of auto-injectable pens or prefilled syringes, so you can inject it yourself at home.
Humira can have serious side effects including infections, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, heart failures, liver problems, and others. You should never take Humira without medical supervision.
Related article: 8 Great tips for traveling with Psoriatic and Rheumatoid Arthritis!
Humira is used to reduce symptoms from Rheumatoid Arthritis and other immune diseases
Storing Humira: Does Humira need to be refrigerated?
Like most injectable liquid medications (Enbrel, Cimzia, Actemra, Orencia, Simponi, etc.) used to treat inflammatory symptoms caused by rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or other immune diseases, Humira injectable pens and prefilled syringes require specific storage temperatures. Indeed, Adalimumab is a temperature-sensitive biologic drug that quickly deteriorates if exposed to high temperatures or direct light for too long.
Humira storage recommendations
According to AbbVie, Humira must be stored "in a refrigerator (2°C-8°C/36°F-46°F) in its original container and protected from light until it’s used (…). [It] may be stored at room temperature up to a maximum of 25°C/77°F for a period of up to 14 days, with protection from light”.
Warmth and light can both quickly deteriorate the fragile medicine. When the above storage recommendations are not properly followed, the efficiency and safety of Humira are not guaranteed anymore. Humira prefilled syringes or injection pens that have been kept out of the fridge for more than 14 days, exposed to temperatures above 25°C/77°F, or exposed to direct light for a long time, must not be used. You should immediately dispose of them.
Related article: How to travel with refrigerated medications?
How long can Humira be stored at room temperature?
Humira can be stored at room temperature (outside the fridge) for a maximum of 14 days. By room temperature, the manufacturer means a maximum of 25°C/77°F.
For most patients, Humira needs to be injected once a week or every two other weeks. If you need to travel with your Humira pen for your next injection, you must make sure it won't be left unrefrigerated for more than 14 days and won't get exposed to temperatures above 25°C/77°F during your trip. If one of these cases might happen, you should consider using a medical-grade travel cooler to protect your medicine.
4AllFamily's medical-grade travel coolers can keep Humira refrigerated in any situations!
In any case, putting your Humira pen back in the refrigerator after it has reached room temperature won't make it last longer. Once the medicine has reached room temperature, even for a short period of time, it must be used within 14 days (even if you put it back in the fridge!).
What happens if Humira is not refrigerated?
Humira is good for use until its expiration date (readable on the original container or on the pen itself) if it has been constantly kept at fridge temperature (2°C-8°C/36°F-46°F). Laboratory tests have shown that Humira is stable for up to 14 days outside of the fridge (below 25°C/77°F). After that time, Humira starts deteriorating and losing efficiency.
Injected Humira that has not been stored properly and that has been left unrefrigerated for more than 14 days is not safe. You should immediately dispose of it and ask your pharmacist for a new pen or syringe.
Related article: What Can Really Happen if Enbrel is Left Unrefrigerated?
What if Humira gets warm?
Another scenario is when Humira not only is left unrefrigerated but reaches temperatures above 25°C/77°F. Situations where your Humira pens or syringes may accidentally get warm are numerous and can happen to anyone. You’ve forgotten your injectable pen in the car for a few hours on a hot sunny day. You’ve placed it too close to the burner. It’s in your purse that you’ve left for hours next to the heater.
Humira that has gone bad from the heat may look cloudy, discolored, or have flakes or particles in it. But it’s not always visible to the naked eye. So, when in doubt and if you think your Humira pen has reached temperatures above 25°C/77°F for more than an hour, you must immediately dispose of it even if it looks “normal”.
Related article: Humira Travel Case: How to travel with Humira?
Can Humira freeze?
No. Humira cannot freeze. According to AbbVie, its manufacturer, it should “never be put in the freezer or frozen. Do not use Humira if frozen, even if it has been thawed.”. Like most injectable liquid medicines including most rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease injections as well as the insulin used for diabetes management, Humira is not good for use anymore once it has frozen, even if it has thawed afterward.
To prevent your Humira pens and prefilled syringes from freezing, make sure you do not store them too close to the freezer compartment in your fridge. If you're living in or traveling to extremely cold places, keep your medicine close to your body. Never leave them in the car at night when temperatures may get below 0°C/32°F. If you’re using a medicine cooler to keep Humira refrigerated while traveling, make sure it has an anti-freeze safety like the ones from 4AllFamily.
What to do if there are air bubbles in your Humira pen?
Air bubbles in your Humira pen are not a sign that your medicine has gone bad. It can happen when your pens or syringes have been shaken. It also occurs frequently during take-off and landing on airplane travels. While it's no problem, you must get rid of the air bubbles before proceeding to the injection. If not, you'd be injecting air instead of Humira which would lead to a reduced dose of medicine. To get rid of the air bubbles, simply prime your pen or syringe and inject a few doses into the air until the bubbles are all out.
Related article: 10 Great Anti-inflammatory Snacks for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
We hope this article has answered all your questions. If not, don't hesitate to ask in the comment section below!