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+
Feb 2022

How to Evaluate Helium Leak Rate Method for Pharmaceutical Containers?

How to Evaluate Helium Leak Rate Method for Pharmaceutical Containers?

Pharmaceutical containers can be tested for Container Closure Integrity (CCI) in a variety of ways. Blue dye test and bacterial or microbial immersion test come under traditional, probabilistic methods. Whereas Vacuum Decay, Airborne Ultrasound, MicroCurrent HVLD, and Helium Leak Detection belong to the deterministic group of test methods. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages that should be considered while selecting a test method for a certain container type. All the methods are not appropriate for all sample configurations. Some succeed in certain applications while failing in others. Nowadays, the pharmaceutical industry is moving away from the traditional blue dye and bacterial immersion test methods and approaching deterministic methods for CCI testing.

The helium leak rate method is proven to be a strong contender for many applications. Helium leak testing is described as the process of detecting leaks in various enclosed or sealed systems by utilizing helium as a "tracer" gas and measuring its concentration as it leaves due to leakage. Like most CCI methods, Helium Leak Detection is deterministic. This method is more sensitive and not prone to contamination as compared to traditional dye or bacterial immersion methods. Due to its highly sensitive nature, it is possible to detect extremely small leaks, which are not possible with other leak testing methods.

Validating Helium Leak Rate Method for Pharmaceutical Containers

Validation of a Helium leak rate method for pharmaceutical container closure integrity assurance required proof that this physical testing method was as excellent as, if not better than, microbial immersion challenge testing in detecting potential integrity problems. Helium leak rate and microbial challenge tests were performed on one lot of rubber-stopper, broth-filled glass vials, which include faulty vials with known leaks. Glass micropipettes (0.1 to 10 microns) were fitted into the sidewalls of the vials to prepare defective vials. A 10% seeded defect rate was present in the validation lot, with nearly 50% of the leaks having a predicted probability of failing a microbial challenge (> 10%). The test units were charged for 4 hours under 40 psi helium pressure to implant the helium tracer in them. After charging, the crucial leak rate was found to be 10(-7) standard cc/second, and test units with measured leak rates exceeding this value were considered helium leak rate failures.

Microbial immersion challenge was performed by immersing the test units for 24 hours in a bath containing 10(9-10) viable E. coli and B. diminuta organisms, followed by a 13-day incubation period at 35°C. Visually, microbial failures were identified. The mean failure rates of the helium and microbial leak test techniques were compared statistically. The average helium failure rate was 6.9%, whereas the average microbial failure rate was 2.8%. There was a considerable difference between helium and microbial failure rates. As a result, helium leak rate testing has been shown to be an acceptable pharmaceutical container/closure integrity method for container quality assurance.

The helium leak detection method is chosen to be one of the best techniques for ensuring the integrity of pharmaceutical containers. This technique may be used to test the inherent package integrity and the Maximum Allowable Leakage Limit (MALL) during package development. It is applicable to a wide range of package types, can locate leaks, and can measure leak flow rates directly.

helium-based leak detection systems, helium leak testing, helium leak detection, helium mass spectrometry, helium leak detector
Dec 2021

A Guide to SIMS 21CFR Part 11 Compliant System Software


LDA, the global leader in helium-based leak detection systems for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries. Helium leak testing is a technique for locating and identifying leaks in a closed vessel using a tracer gas, helium. The method of helium leak testing is often used to evaluate system performance. Helium gas is commonly employed as a leak testing medium because of its ability to detect and quantify leak rates at extremely low levels.

SIMS Version 1.11.19 21 CFR Part 11 compliant software program

SIMS Version 1.11.19 21 CFR Part 11 is a compliance software application particularly created and manufactured for custom-built helium leak testing equipment. The application was created to support SIMS 1915+ units and makes LDA the only helium-based leak testing system provider on the market that meets all the FDA's (Food & Drug Administration’s) 21 CFR Part 11 data integrity software criteria.

With the growing usage of computer systems and electronic records over the last two decades, the FDA has published a number of guidance documents and directives outlining particular requirements for electronic data management. Users must be able to log in at different levels, utilize electronic signatures and approvals, have secure data management that prohibits changes to current results, and have an electronic audit trail that captures all relevant activities in a time and date stamped pattern.

LDA was able to build a robust and thorough helium leak testing procedure on our custom-designed and built systems. This improves functionality and usability compared to existing software options, by contracting with a development team that specializes in the development of instrument operation software programs and has extensive experience in the Part 11 area. LDA is offering a system software update program for current SIMS devices in the market for quick onsite installation for a client's existing installation base. The 21 CFR Part 11 program consists of all the instruments, including SIMS 1915+ and SIMS 1915+ LT low temperature add-on units.

Leak Detection Associates has been the major provider of custom helium leak detection equipment to the pharmaceutical, and medical device industry for over 20 years. Based on intended usage and target package system configuration, each test system is developed to meet regulated quality system requirements as well as the particular client's specifications. The LDA team creates custom add-on components for clients that need a flexible leak detection system that can be used with a variety of package types and configurations. This ensures flexibility in reaching particular research goals.

helium-based leak detection systems, helium leak testing, helium leak detection, helium mass spectrometry, sims 1915+

Popular Blogs


Leak Detection Associates Celebrates Major 2019 Milestones

Dec 27, 2019   |   11620

Leak Detection Associates (LDA), the world’s premier manufacturer of custom built, helium-based leak testing instruments for the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Medical Device and Food Packaging Industries is excited to celebrate the completion of its first calendar year under new management.

The Advantages of Using Helium for Leak Testing

May 13, 2020   |   5931

The use of helium gas as a medium for leak testing dates back to the 1940’s.Using helium as the “tracer” gas enables the user to discover and measure extremely small leaks.

An Overview of 21 CFR Part 11 Compliance Requirements

Nov 02, 2020   |   5368

A review of some simple and direct questions regarding Part 11 compliance to help you to understand its requirements and implementation.

Leak Detection Associates Announces New and Updated Helium Leak Detection System

Nov 01, 2020   |   4584

Leak Detection Associates (LDA), the world’s premier manufacturer of custom built, helium-based leak testing instruments is excited to announce the launch of its newest and most advanced helium leak detection system, the SIMS Model 1915 that is engineered incorporating industry-leading Agilent Technologies components and is custom designed to meet the stringent requirements of clients in FDA-regulated industries.

Applications of HeLD to Cartridge Package Development and Validation

Nov 04, 2020   |   4299

A study on the applications of helium leak detection for cartridges, which are frequently used as part of a device delivery system in pharmaceutical industry