Factors affecting the chemical durability of glass used in the pharmaceutical industry

AAPS PharmSciTech. 2010 Sep;11(3):1340-9. doi: 10.1208/s12249-010-9506-9. Epub 2010 Aug 26.


Delamination, or the generation of glass flakes in vials used to contain parenteral drug products, continues to be a persistent problem in the pharmaceutical industry. To understand all of the factors that might contribute to delamination, a statistical design of experiments was implemented to describe this loss of chemical integrity for glass vials. Phase I of this study focused on the effects of thermal exposure (prior to product filling) on the surface chemistry of glass vials. Even though such temperatures are below the glass transition temperature for the glass, and parenteral compounds are injected directly into the body, data must be collected to show that the glass was not phase separating. Phase II of these studies examined the combined effects of thermal exposure, glass chemistry, and exposure to pharmaceutically relevant molecules on glass delamination. A variety of tools was used to examine the glass and the solution contained in the vial including: scanning electron microscopy and dynamic secondary ion mass spectroscopy for the glass; and visual examination, pH measurements, laser particle counting, and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry for the analysis of the solution. The combined results of phase I and II showed depyrogenation does not play a significant role in delamination. Terminal sterilization, glass chemistry, and solution chemistry are the key factors in the generation of glass flakes. Dissolution of silica may be an effective indicator that delamination will occur with a given liquid stored in glass. Finally, delamination should not be defined by the appearance of visible glass particulates. There is a mechanical component in the delamination process whereby the flakes must break away from the interior vial surface. Delamination should be defined by the observation of flakes on the interior surface of the vial, which can be detected by several other analytical techniques.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Packaging*
  • Drug Storage*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Glass / chemistry*
  • Hot Temperature