Rationale of the Week | How long are these insulin pens good for?

For last week’s practice question, we quizzed participants on insulin storage guidelines. 55% of respondents chose the best answer. We want to clarify and share this important information, so you can pass it on to people living with diabetes and your colleagues, plus prepare for exam success!

Before we start though, if you don’t want any spoilers and haven’t tried the question yet, you can answer it below: Answer Question

Question:

JR has a bunch of insulin pens at home and is wondering if they are still good to use. Most of the unopened insulin pens are stored in the fridge, but JR has 2 degludec (Tresiba) pens that they left out of the refrigerator by accident. They ask you if they are still good. What is the most accurate response for the shelf life of degludec (Tresiba) pens stored at room temperature of up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit?

Answer Choices:

  1. In general, insulin pens expire after 10-14 days at room temperature.
  2. Insulin kept for more than 28 days at room temperature needs to be discarded.
  3. JR can put the degludec (Tresiba) back in the refrigerator and use it until the expiration date.
  4. Degludec (Tresiba) can be safely stored at room temperature for up to 56 days.


Getting to the Best Answer

  1. In general, insulin pens expire after 10-14 days at room temperature. (incorrect) 11% of respondents chose this juicy answer. However, degludec has one of the longest shelf lives at room temperature due to its pharmacokinetics.  NPH and premixed insulin like 70/30 insulins have a shorter shelf life of 10-14 days. You can refer to our Insulin Storage Guidelines or package inserts for more information.
  1. Insulin kept for more than 28 days at room temperature needs to be discarded. (incorrect)  About 25% of respondents chose this answer.  Most bolus insulins have a shelf life of about 28 days whether they are stored in an insulin pen or vial. But many basal and concentrated insulins have a longer shelf life. NPH and premixed insulin like 70/30 insulins have a shorter shelf life of 10-14 days.  Given the cost of insulin, this is important information to share with people living with diabetes, so they are aware of accurate insulin storage guidelines.  You can refer to our Insulin Storage Guidelines or package inserts for more information.
  1. JR can put the degludec (Tresiba) back in the refrigerator and use it until the expiration date. (incorrect)  9% of respondents chose this answer, however, it is not an accurate answer. Once insulin is left out at room temperature, the clock starts ticking and with time, the potency of the insulin diminishes.  For insulin degludec, the shelf life is 56 days outside of the refrigerator. If JR isn’t sure how long the insulin has been sitting out, they can look at the box Rx label or contact their pharmacy and find out what day the insulin was dispensed. You can refer to our Insulin Storage Guidelines or package inserts for more information.
  1. Degludec (Tresiba) can be safely stored at room temperature for up to 56 days. (correct).  YES, this is the BEST answer and 55% of you chose this answer.  Degludec along with Toujeo (Lantus U-300) can both be stored at room temperature for up to 56 days.  You can refer to our Insulin Storage Guidelines or package inserts for more information.

Practical Clinical Pointers: Of course, these are general storage guidelines and if people using insulin notice blood sugars climbing despite adequate insulin dosing, it can be a sign the insulin has lost its potency.  Sometimes, people on a budget might decide to keep using insulin past the expiration date. In either case, we can advise individuals to switch to a new insulin vial or pen right away if they notice blood sugars unexplainably trending up.

Thank you so much for reading this “Rationale of the Week”.
Please refer to our Insulin Storage Guidelines or package inserts for more information. We also invite you to join our Online Courses for more information (see info below)
Hope you can join our ADA Standards of Care Webinar Update in February.
See below for info.


Want to learn more about this question? Join us for our

Level 2 | ADA Standards of Care CE Course | 2.0 CEs

Update airs live Feb. 2, 2023, at 11:30 am PST

This course, updated annually, is an essential review for anyone in the field of diabetes. Join Coach Beverly as she summarizes the 2023 updates to the American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes and provides critical teaching points and content for healthcare professionals involved in diabetes care and education.

Objectives:

  1. List significant changes and updates to the 2023 ADA Standards of Medical Care.
  2. State 3 updates on new blood pressure and lipid goals.
  3. Identify 5 key elements of the position statement.
  4. Discuss how to apply the Standards in the clinical setting and in preparation for exam success.

Intended Audience:  This course is a knowledge-based activity designed for individuals or groups of diabetes professionals, including RNs, RDs, Pharmacists, Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Physician Assistants, and other health care providers interested in staying up to date on current practices of care for people with prediabetes, diabetes and other related conditions.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it live. Your registration guarantees access to the recorded version in the Online University.

All hours earned count toward your CDCES Accreditation Information


Studying for the CDCES Exam? Enroll in our

CDCES Deluxe Prep Bundle | 30+ Online Courses + Bonus Items | 47 CEs

This bundle includes our CDCES Online Prep Bundle (featured above) plus the ADCES Review Guide – 5th Edition-Revised. The online bundle includes Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 (Boot Camp), plus two bonus courses. The ADCES Review Guide offers over 480+ practice questions and is a fantastic independent study tool and comprehensive resource for the Diabetes Care and Education Specialist Exam.

Included in this bundle

  • Level 1 focuses on the fundamentals and introduces each topic area for the exam.
  • Level 2 deep dives into the ADA Standards of Care, 
  • Level 3 AKA Boot Camp is a more accelerated level that focuses on test simulation for finding the best answer to get you to the finish line of your study path.
  • Technology Toolkit which gives information on pumps, sensors, and calculations,
  • Test Taking Toolkit includes over 220 practice questions for test simulation plus a webinar where Coach Beverly provides test-taking tips based on her experience taking the certification exam six times. 
  • ADCES Review Guide for the Diabetes Care and Education Specialist Exam – 5th Edition – Revised – The ADCES Review Guide is a fantastic independent study tool and comprehensive resource for the Diabetes Care and Education Specialist Exam. This book includes 480 + multiple-choice questions and strategies for preparing for and taking the exam with an answer key with rationales for all questions! 
  • Medication PocketCard – Our four-sided medication accordion Pocketcards were designed by Coach Beverly Thomassian to assist in clinical practice and exam preparation.
  • Tote Bag

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