Difference Between Extractables and Leachables

In the intricate world of biopharmaceutical manufacturing, the presence of extractables and leachables poses a significant challenge, potentially tarnishing the purity of invaluable drug products. The FDA offers precise definitions for these two critical terms:


These are compounds that can be meticulously drawn out from the container closure system when a solvent enters the scene. Think of them as the silent actors waiting for their cue in the presence of a solvent.


In contrast, leachables are like eager performers, jumping onto the stage by leaching into the drug product formulation through direct contact with the container closure system. It’s a chemical ballet, and the formulation is the dance floor.

These unwanted guests, extractables and leachables, can be gatecrashers at the pharmaceutical party due to various culprits – from the manufacturing process to container closure systems and even the packaging materials themselves. However, let’s delve deeper into the captivating world of these chemical entities, understanding both their essence and their differences.

Extractables: Unveiling the Invisible

Extractables are the elusive substances that emerge when a primary container, component material, or delivery system undergoes laboratory manipulation. This transformation can be triggered by exposure to solvents or heat. Picture them as the elusive chameleons of pharmaceuticals, adapting to extreme conditions. Their origins often trace back to the dynamic interplay between drug products and their packaging. Whether it’s single-use consumables or biopharma packaging components like the single-use bioprocess container, extractables tend to emerge when things get intense – strong solvents, high temperatures, or even gamma irradiation-induced degradation of polymer-based containers.

Leachables: The Unexpected Intruders

Leachables, on the other hand, are the audacious gatecrashers of the pharmaceutical soirĂ©e. They intrude into drug products from the container-closure system, comprised of materials like elastomers, polymers, plastic components, or coatings. Their presence is a direct consequence of mingling with the formulation itself. Leachables are a subset of extractables, but here’s the fascinating twist – they don’t need the spotlight of extreme conditions. They can materialize under the mundane circumstances of everyday use. Additives, release agents, coatings, or inorganic materials are the puppeteers orchestrating this chemical drama.

Spotlight on the Distinction

While both extractables and leachables can disrupt the pharmaceutical equilibrium, understanding their nuances is pivotal. Extractables come to life in extreme conditions, like performers rehearsing for a grand spectacle. Leachables, however, are the uninvited guests who can crash the party under regular circumstances.

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Resource Person: Shubham Sonu

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