Comparing Physical Container Closure Integrity Test Methods and Artificial Leak Methodologies

PDA J Pharm Sci Technol. 2019 May-Jun;73(3):220-234. doi: 10.5731/pdajpst.2018.009332. Epub 2019 Jan 16.

Abstract

The sterility of drug products intended for parenteral administration is a critical quality attribute (CQA) because it serves to ensure patient safety and is thus a key requirement by health authorities. While sterility testing is a probabilistic test, the assurance of sterility is a holistic concept including adequate design of manufacturing facilities, process performance, and product design. Container closure integrity testing (CCIT) is necessary to confirm the integrity of a container closure system (CCS), until the end of a product's shelf life. The new and revised United States Pharmacopeia (USP) General Chapter <1207> is a comprehensive guidance on CCI. Nevertheless, practical considerations including the choice of CCIT methods, the acceptance criteria, or the positive control samples (artificial leaks) must be addressed by the pharmaceutical manufacturer.This study is the first to provide a systematic comparison of four commonly used physical CCIT (pCCIT) methods [Helium (He) leak, vacuum decay, laser-based headspace analysis (HSA), and dye ingress] and four commonly used modes of creating artificial leaks (laser-drilled micro holes, copper wire introduced leaks, and two types of capillary leaks).The results from these experiments provide comprehensive data to allow a direct comparison of the capabilities of the individual methods. The results confirmed that the He leak detection method, which is considered the "gold-standard" for pCCIT regarding method sensitivity, indeed demonstrates the highest detection sensitivity (lowest detection limit). In comparison to the dye ingress method, HSA and vacuum decay also demonstrated better detection sensitivity in our study.Capillary leaks with orifice diameter (capillary leak with flow according to an ideal orifice) and micro holes yielded similar leak rates, whereas capillaries with nominal diameters yielded significantly lower leak rates. In conclusion, method sensitivity cannot be compared by means of a leak diameter, but requires the consideration of multiple impacting factors (e.g., path length, uniformity).LAY ABSTRACT: Sterility of drug products intended for parenteral administration is a critical quality attribute to ensure patient's safety and is thus a key requirement by health authorities. The absence of microbial contamination must be demonstrated by container closure integrity (CCI) of the container closure system (CCS). Currently, the revised United States Pharmacopeia (USP) General Chapter <1207> provides the most extensive guidance on how CCI should be assessed. Nevertheless, practical considerations on the choice of an appropriate CCIT method, artificial leaks or the choice of an acceptance criteria are lacking and must be addressed by the pharmaceutical manufacturer.This study provides a systematic comparison of four commonly used physical CCIT (pCCIT) methods [Helium (He) leak, vacuum decay, laser-based headspace analysis (HSA) and dye ingress] and four commonly used modes of creating artificial leaks (laser-drilled micro holes, copper wire introduced leaks, and two types of capillary leaks).

Keywords: Artificial leaks; Container closure integrity testing; Laser-based headspace analysis; Mass spectrometry-based helium leak detection; Primary packaging; USP <1207>.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Drug Packaging / instrumentation
  • Drug Packaging / methods*
  • Drug Packaging / standards*
  • Glass / chemistry
  • Glass / standards*
  • Lasers
  • Materials Testing
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / standards*
  • Quality Control
  • Vacuum

Substances

  • Pharmaceutical Preparations