Domestic refrigerator may affect insulin quality

Your refrigerator may pose risk to the quality of the insulin which, as per a new study is often stored at the wrong temperature in patients' fridges at home, affecting its potency.


New research being presented at this year's European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Germany stated that many injectable drugs and vaccines are highly sensitive to heat and cold and can perish if their temperature shifts a few degrees.


Carried out by Dr. Katarina Braune from Charité - Universitaetsmedizin Berlin in Germany in collaboration with Professor Lutz Heinemann and the digital health company MedAngel BV, the new study set out to investigate how often insulin is stored by patients at temperatures that fall outside the manufacturer's recommended range.


The researchers recruited 388 diabetes patients living in the USA and the EU and asked them to place MedAngel ONE temperature sensors either next to their insulin in the fridge and/or in their diabetes bag for insulin carried as a spare.


The sensors automatically measure the temperature every three minutes, which is up to 480 times a day, before sending the data to an app where it can be securely recorded. Temperatures were recorded for an average of 49 days. 


After analysing 400 temperature logs, including 230 for refrigerated insulin and 170 for carried insulin, the researchers found that 315 (79 per cent) were stored at temperatures outside of the recommended temperature range.


To prevent loss of effectiveness, insulin must stay between 2-8°C in the refrigerator, or 2-30°C when carried about in a pen or vial.


On average, insulin stored in the fridge was out of the recommended temperature range 11 per cent of the time (equivalent to 2 hours and 34 minutes a day).


In contrast, insulin carried by patients was only outside recommendations for around 8 minutes a day.


Importantly, freezing was an even bigger issue, with 66 sensors (17 per cent) measuring temperatures below 0°C (equivalent to 3 hours a month on average).


Dr. Katarina Braune said: "Many people with diabetes are unwittingly storing their insulin wrong because of fluctuating temperatures in domestic refrigerators. When storing your insulin in the fridge at home, always use a thermometer to check the temperature. Long-term storage conditions of insulin are known to have an impact on its blood-glucose-lowering effect."


For people living with insulin-dependent diabetes who take insulin several times a day via injections or continuously administer insulin with a pump, precise dosing is essential to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes.


More research is needed to examine the extent to which temperature deviations during domestic storage affect insulin efficacy and patient outcomes.

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