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How long does Humulin last?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on June 7, 2023.

Official answer

  • The length of time Humulin lasts depends on the type of Humulin.
  • Humulin R lasts for 8 hours.
  • Humulin N lasts for 12 to 18 hours.
  • Combination Humulins (50:50 or 70:30) can last for up to 24 hours.

Humulin is a brand name for insulin that is made by Eli Lilly and Company. Insulin is a hormone that is produced naturally in our bodies. Its main role is to allow cells throughout the body to uptake glucose (sugar) and convert it into a form that can be used by these cells for energy. Without insulin, we cannot survive, and death from diabetes was a common occurrence until insulin was discovered in the early 1900s by Frederick Banting and Charles Best.

There are several different types of Humulin and each one has been made to last for a specific length of time, for example:

  • Humulin R: Short-acting insulin
  • Humulin N: Intermediate-acting insulin
  • Humulin 50/50: A combination of 50% intermediate-acting insulin and 50% short-acting insulin
  • Humulin 70/30: A combination of 70% intermediate-acting insulin and 30% short-acting insulin
  • Humulin L and Humulin U have been discontinued.

Different insulins that work for different lengths of time are needed so that the natural release of insulin by the body in response to food is better replicated.

Related questions

Humulin R

A short-acting insulin that:

  • Starts to work within 30 minutes after injection
  • Peaks in 2 to 3 hours
  • Keeps working for up to 8 hours.

Humulin N

An intermediate-acting insulin that:

  • Starts to work within 2 to 4 hours after injection
  • Peaks in 4 to 12 hours
  • Keeps working for 12 to 18 hours.

Humulin 50:50 and Humulin 70:30

Combination insulins that are usually administered 30 minutes before a meal and contain:

  • A short-acting insulin
  • An intermediate-acting insulin.

These pre-mixed insulins simplify dosing in people needing insulin because they already have a short-acting and an intermediate-acting insulin in them. They start to work within 10 to 20 minutes after injection, peak in 2 hours, and keep working for up to 24 hours.


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