Water for Pharmaceutical Use


Water is widely used as a raw material, inactive ingredient, medicinal vehicle, and solvent in the processing, formulation, and manufacture of pharmaceutical products (dosage forms), active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), API intermediates, compendial articles, and analytical reagents as well as in cleaning applications.


There are many different grades of water used for pharmaceutical purposes. Several are described in USP monographs that specify uses, acceptable methods of preparation, and quality attributes. These waters can be divided into two general types: bulk waters, which are typically produced on-site where they are used; and sterile waters, which are produced, packaged, and sterilized to preserve microbial quality throughout their packaged shelf life. 


There are several specialized types of sterile waters that differ in their designated applications, packaging limitations, and other quality attributes. Monographed waters must meet the quality attributes as specified in the related monographs, and any Notes appearing in those monographs should be considered and addressed.


Pharmaceutical Water Grades

As per FDA, there are 8 types of water are:

1. Non-potable

2. Potable (drinkable) water

3. USP purified water

4. USP water for injection (WFI)

5. USP sterile water for injection

6. USP sterile water for inhalation

7. USP bacteriostatic water for injection

8. USP sterile water for irrigation


The USP designation means that the water is the subject of an official monograph in the current US pharmacopoeia with various specifications for each type. 


Minimum Test Required for Pharmaceutical Water

Control and monitoring of the chemical and endotoxin purity of waters are important for complying with the requirements of the monographs in this compendium. Attributes listed in USP monographs should be considered the “minimum” requirements. More stringent requirements may be needed for some applications to ensure suitability for particular uses. Basic guidance on the appropriate applications of waters can be found in the monographs.


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