Mar 2022

Understanding Combination Products Leak Detection Using SIMS 1915+

Understanding Combination Products Leak Detection Using SIMS 1915+

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for drug testing of combination products are strict. Companies seeking FDA clearance for such products must fully understand the requirements for FDA approval in order to prevent costly and time-consuming errors. Combination products are made up of two or more regulated components, such as pharmaceuticals, devices, or biologicals, that have been physically, chemically, or otherwise combined and formed as a single entity to achieve a therapeutic effect. A combination product can combine at least two of these product categories, and sometimes all three. Traditional drug-device combination products, such as a syringe pre-filled with a drug, auto-injectors containing a filled cartridge and needle, and co-packaged or kitted products, are some of the most common types of combination products.

The constantly increasing demand for combination pharmaceutical products continues to fuel innovation and creates numerous interesting opportunities that will provide the medical community with promising new alternatives for improving patient care and results. However, bringing bio/pharmaceuticals and medical devices together to form a combination product necessitates extensive testing of all product ingredients.

Why Use SIM 1915+ for Leak Testing Combination Products?

A Helium-based leak detection system-Seal Integrity Monitoring System (SIMS) 1915+ is an excellent solution for detecting leaks in combination products. Packages may be quantitatively evaluated using helium as the tracer gas, which assures better levels of accuracy when compared to traditional vacuum bubble and dye penetration test procedures. SIMS 1915+, which has been proven to be an effective leak detection approach, may also be utilized for package design, tooling certification, manufacturing line setup, and ongoing product quality monitoring. LDA custom builds each SIMS 1915+ Helium Leak Testing device to customer specifications. Cold form blister cards, foil pouches, parenteral vials, syringes, pre-filled syringes, and unique medical devices can also be tested using SIMS 1915+.

Technology Overview

SIMS Model 1915+ helium-based leak testing system offered by LDA ( a PTI company ) is specifically designed for medical and pharmaceutical package leak detection. The SIMS 1915+ enables quantitative analysis of package systems at sensitivity levels as low as 1 x 10 -10 cc/s at room temperature. The Helium Leak Detector Module (HLDM), the most crucial component, is built within a Console Frame Assembly with a Stainless Steel working surface and an optional Dual Test Port Manifold. The consoles have a locking wheel and an articulating arm system for attaching the computer and peripherals, making the independent device simple to operate and maneuver.

The SIMS 1915+ Leak Detection System specs and add-on components are shown below.

  • Helium Leak Detector Module (HLDM): Oil-Free, Production Version in Console Frame Assembly with Stainless Steel Working Surface and Dual Test Port Manifold.
  • Vacuum Test Fixture Model (VTFM): a custom-made fixture for testing vial container samples.
  • Head Space Analyzer Module (HSAM): Model VM-2 that includes three (3) Puncture Probes (two spares) for determining the concentration of helium in the headspace of vial containers.
  • Integral Calibration Chamber (with Calibrant Gas Flow Meter/Controller) for HSAM Calibration and a Universal Holder for various vial diameters are offered.
  • Helium Filling Device designed specifically for vial testing sample prep that allows vials to be filled with helium.
  • Low Temperature (LT) Add-on devices created particularly for evaluating products in ultra-cold storage temperatures as low as –140 °C.

SIMS 1915+ Applications

Common applications of SIMS 1915+ include:

  • Pre-filled syringes
  • Vials
  • Bottles
  • Combination products
  • Foil pouches
  • Blister packs

Combination products provide a safe, effective, and convenient method of administering the drug or biologic therapies. The purpose of testing combination products is to obtain information to support the claim that all use-related hazards connected with the product have been reduced to the greatest extent possible. LDA is well-versed in the extensive testing requirements and regulatory criteria for bio/pharmaceutical products and medical devices, and provides complete testing services for these components, both individually and in combination.

helium-based leak detection systems, helium leak testing, pharmaceutical leak detection, helium leak detection, pharmaceutical package leak detection, sims 1915+
Jan 2022

How Helium Mass Spectrometry Ensures Quality and Integrity of Bottles?


Maintaining the integrity of products from the time it is manufactured to the time it is distributed to the patient is a great challenge. Liquid pharmaceuticals, capsules, and formed tablets are typically packaged in bottles. To assure the quality of these items, leak testing is carried out on each bottle to ensure that it does not leak. Testing pharmaceutical bottles or pharmaceutical package leak detection before filling is a critical step in ensuring the integrity of the container.

Helium leak testing is one of the most sensitive Container Closure Integrity (CCI) testing techniques that can be applied to pharmaceutical bottles for testing quality. Helium is used as a tracer gas, and the quantity of helium leaving through the package is measured and stated as leak rate. Since it is non-toxic, non-flammable, and non-condensable, helium is an ideal tracer gas for finding leaks. Its atmospheric presence is restricted to 5ppm. Due to its tiny atomic size, helium can easily pass-through leaks. Helium is also safe to use since it does not react with the materials of the components under test.

Significance of Helium Mass Spectrometry in Leak Testing Pharmaceutical Bottles

Helium mass spectrometry is a leak detection standard for pharmaceutical containers including bottles. Helium mass spectrometer, a commonly used instrument detects and locates tiny leaks. It usually works with a vacuum chamber and a sealed container filled with helium. A mass spectrometer detects the rate at which helium is leaking out of the container. This method uses tracer gas - helium to fill the product attached to the detector. The tested product leaks helium into the detector, where its partial pressure is measured and displayed.

The leak detector's principle is based on a sector field mass spectrometer. In vacuum, entering helium gases are ionized. The helium ions are then accelerated by adding voltage and then separated in a magnetic field. The ion current is converted to an electric current by using a particular detector. This current is accelerated using leak detection units and displayed on the screen. The current measured will be directly proportional to the concentration of helium and therefore equal to the leak measured.

Applications of Helium Leak Detection

  • Ensure container closure integrity.
  • Seal integrity monitoring during stability studies.
  • Verify and predict shelf-life seal integrity.
  • Useful in the early stages of the development of a pharmaceutical product packaging system.
  • Closure formulation and configuration selection.

Bottles are useful in the healthcare industry, hence evaluating them is a challenging task nowadays. These containers are extremely difficult to test, however, helium leak detection can be used to qualify them prior to use or as a proof of concept. LDA provides professional engineering solutions for the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) sterile container testing.

helium mass spectrometry, pharmaceutical package leak detection, pharmaceutical leak detection, mass spectrometer, mass spectrometry
Nov 2021

Applications of Helium Leak Testing Across Different Industries


Helium leak detection is referred to as the process of detecting leaks in various packaged or sealed systems by utilizing helium as tracer gas and measuring its concentration as it escapes due to leakage. A package system such as a vial that consists of a container and an elastomeric closure, is a good example. The vial is filled with helium and vacuum is applied. The quantity of helium that escapes from the package is quantified and expressed as a leak rate. A pre-filled syringe, a foil pouch, or a cold form blister card are some more examples of package systems. Each of these package types is designed to keep the pharmaceutical product enclosed while keeping out potentially harmful environmental pollutants like dust, bacteria, or even gases. The helium leak testing method can evaluate each of them.

Helium leak testing is widely utilized in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries because of its relevance in guaranteeing package integrity and quality. Now, let us see how these sectors benefit by using this technique.

1. Pharmaceutical Industry: The pharmaceutical industry has experienced enormous progress in terms of technological developments and drug delivery system innovations over the last two decades. However, such developments have created new quality assurance challenges for drug manufacturers. As a result, pharmaceutical manufacturers give major priority to both quality control procedures and pharmaceutical package leak detection.

CCI Testing is a leak detection technique that evaluates the capacity of container closure systems to maintain a sterile barrier against external contamination. These tests may be divided into two types: probabilistic test and deterministic test. Although probabilistic test methods like Bubble Tests and Dye Ingress were initially common, due to technological advancements, non-destructive approaches are now the preferred way for ensuring container integrity. Hence, pharmaceutical manufacturers are encouraged to switch to more dependable deterministic test methods, such as helium leak detection, which offer quantitative findings that are assured and precise. By using helium leak detection early in the development process, companies can improve the quality of their drug delivery system. This not only saves money and time, but also improves safety.

2. Medical Devices Industry: In the medical device industry, package integrity testing is important since product failure presents considerable risks to patients and healthcare professionals, as well as liability for manufacturers. Barriers between fluids or gases are frequently used in medical equipment. These barriers must be functional in order to safeguard the patient and, in many cases, the medical equipment. Some devices operate as channels for delivering or extracting fluids to or from specific parts of the body. If a leak develops along the channel, fluids might be supplied to the incorrect place by mistake or wrong fluids could be extracted, resulting in hazardous effects. As a result, medical device industries use various CCI test methods including helium leak testing to ensure package integrity.

Helium leak testing is the most common tracer gas method in the medical device industry. Helium or a helium-air combination is used to pressurize the test component within a vacuum chamber. The chamber enclosing the part is next evacuated, generating a vacuum that allows the helium to enter the chamber through any leaks. A mass spectrometer designed to detect helium takes a sample of the vacuum chamber and ionizes any helium detected. Even a small amount of helium is easily detected in this method.

The major reason for choosing the tracer gas technique by manufacturers is the necessity for high leak-detection sensitivity in particular medical device equipment applications. Product testing is a crucial part of the device production process in the medical industry. As quality requirements have gotten increasingly strict, leak testing has become increasingly important for medical equipment as well as pharmaceutical manufacturers.

helium leak detection, helium test, leak detection, helium detector, helium leak testing, pharmaceutical package leak detection

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