A study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews shows that insulin can be stored at room temperature for months without losing its potency. The findings could offer hope for millions of people with diabetes living in areas with limited access to health care or stable electricity and reliable refrigeration.
People living in low- and middle- income countries, especially rural areas, and people whose lives have been disrupted by war, conflict or natural disasters may not have access to proper refrigeration. The researchers analysed 17 studies that examined insulin stability under various storage conditions. They concluded that unopened vials and cartridges of specific types of human insulin can be stored at temperatures of up to 25°C for a maximum of six months and up to 37°C for a maximum of two months, without any clinically relevant loss of potency. Consistent insulin potency was preserved at temperatures ranging from 4°C to 37°C.
For best results, insulin should be kept out of direct light and not allowed to get too cold or too hot. In addition, when proper refrigeration is not possible, room temperature can be lowered by using simple cooling devices such as clay pots for insulin storage. The findings are especially significant for people with type 1 diabetes who have to inject insulin several times a day and need it for survival.