Long Lost Member
Total Posts: 11
Registered on: ‎04-19-2011

Where to recycle or dispose of unused insulin?????

My son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes about 3-1/2 months ago he is 11. We are in the honeymoon stage right now so his insulin doses are quite small and we can never use all the insulin in the bottle before it expires. I have asked the pharmacy and the doctors where to get rid of it and no-one knows what to tell me. I was told to open container and dump it in the garbage but it smells quite bad and not sure if that is proper disposal. Can someone tell me what to do with all the leftovers? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Lorna
Total Posts: 7,662
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Registered on: ‎10-31-2009

Where to recycle or dispose of unused insulin?????

I'm not going to answer you question about disposal, because I always use my insulin before it expires, but, I have another idea that may help reduce the amount you have to throw away.

If you are using Lantus, Levemir, Humalog, Novolog or Apidra, they are all available in pens rather than vials.  They come in a box of five pens, with 300 units in each pen, so a box gives you 1500 units instead of 1000 units in a vial.  You still keep the box in the refrigerator, but you can take out just one pen at a time, and the 28 or 30 days until expiration only applies to that one pen, not the others that are in the refrigerator.  Even if you use only ten units a day from a pen, you end up using all the insulin in the pen before the end of the month.

Now, the pens may cost more bcause you get 50% more insulin to begin with, and they may even cost more per unit,  but  since you have little or no waste, you (or your insurance company) may actually save money.  You have to do the math to figure out if it would work better for you or not.

A couple of other advantages are that the pens are far less likely to drop and break, they are a lot easier to transport, and they are simpler for kids or adult helpers to use. 

One disadvantage is that it is not really possible to dose just a fraction of a unit at a time, as some people do with half-unit syringes.

"Molly" (aka mollythed)
Type 2 diabetes diagnosed in 1995, now managed with Lantus, Novolog and Metformin; diet and exercise.
My late husband had diabetes. My three adult sons also have type 2 diabetes.

Total Posts: 236
Registered on: ‎11-05-2009

Where to recycle or dispose of unused insulin?????

We just throw our leftover insulin in the garbage.
But I'd agree with mollythed - you can avoid wasting so much insulin by getting the pen cartridges instead of big vials. Then you can use a pen for the larger doses and draw from the pen with a syringe for doses <1 unit.