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Publication numberUS20030034271 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/190,059
Publication dateFeb 20, 2003
Filing dateJul 3, 2002
Priority dateJan 25, 2000
Publication number10190059, 190059, US 2003/0034271 A1, US 2003/034271 A1, US 20030034271 A1, US 20030034271A1, US 2003034271 A1, US 2003034271A1, US-A1-20030034271, US-A1-2003034271, US2003/0034271A1, US2003/034271A1, US20030034271 A1, US20030034271A1, US2003034271 A1, US2003034271A1
InventorsMichael Burridge
Original AssigneeBurridge Michael D.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Internal ejector punch for blister-pack type containers
US 20030034271 A1
Abstract
The present invention is embodied in a protective surround in combination with an “internal ejector punch.” The internal ejector punch is either integral to an upper membrane of the protective surround, or is simply disposed within a dome or bubble of a conventional blister-pack type container. For example, given a protective surround such as a blister pack, the internal ejector punch provides the capability to safely protect items within the blister pack such as medication in solid, soft or semi-solid, powder, or liquid form, while allowing such items to be easily and rapidly dispensed from the blister pack by a user. Further, the internal ejector punch is designed to be substantially stronger than the relatively soft blister-pack type container, thereby providing the added benefit of protecting items stored within the internal ejector punch in a manner that would not be possible using only a conventional blister-pack type container.
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Claims(25)
What is claimed is:
1. An internal punch for opening a chamber in a blister-pack type container, comprising:
a free floating flexible ejector punch disposed within a chamber of a blister-pack type container between a domed upper membrane and a frangible lower membrane;
said free floating flexible ejector punch cutting through the lower membrane to open the chamber by applying pressure to the domed upper membrane.
2. The internal punch of claim 1 wherein at least one item is stored within a central cavity within the internal punch.
3. The internal punch of claim 2 wherein at least one item stored within the central cavity within the internal punch is released from the central cavity when the cutting edge of the ejector punch is forced through the lower membrane.
4. The internal punch of claim 1 further comprising a cutting edge defining a bottom end of the central cavity.
5. The internal punch of claim 4 wherein the cutting edge is serrated.
6. The internal punch of claim 4 wherein the cutting edge is generally perpendicular to the surface of the frangible lower membrane.
7. A system for opening a chamber in a blister-pack type container, comprising:
a blister pack-type container having an upper membrane comprising at least one flexible dome, each dome defining a central void;
an ejector punch disposed within the central void of at least one dome, said ejector punches having an open end which defines a central cavity within each ejector punch;
a cutting edge defining the open end of each ejector punch;
a lower membrane attached to the bottom of the upper membrane, thereby sealing an ejector punch in at least one dome; and
opening at least one chamber in the blister pack type container by pressing the dome into the ejector punch, thereby forcing the cutting edge of the ejector punch through the lower membrane.
8. The system of claim 7 wherein the ejector punch disposed within the central void of at least one dome is integral to at least one of the domes.
9. The system of claim 7 wherein the ejector punch disposed within the central void of at least one dome is free floating within at least one of the domes.
10. The system of claim 7 wherein at least one item is stored within the central cavity within each ejector punch.
11. The system of claim 7 wherein at least one item stored within the central cavity within each ejector punch is released from the central cavity when the cutting edge of the ejector punch is forced through the lower membrane.
12. A dispenser for storing and dispensing material in a solid, powder, or liquid form, comprising:
an upper membrane comprising at least one flexible dome, each dome defining a central void;
a lower membrane attached to the bottom of the upper membrane; and
an annular cutter extending down from the interior surface of each dome toward the lower membrane.
13. The dispenser of claim 12 wherein medication is stored with the inner circumference of at least one of the annular cutters extending down from the interior surface of each dome.
14. The dispenser of claim 12 wherein the at least one flexible dome deforms downwardly and pushes the corresponding annular cutter against the lower membrane to cut through the lower membrane when an external downward force is applied to the top of that dome.
15. The dispenser of claim 14 wherein a space formed within the flexible dome is initially airtight so that the downward deformation of the at least one dome increases pressure within that dome prior to the cutter cutting through the lower membrane.
16. The dispenser of claim 15 wherein the increased pressure within the at least one dome propels the stored medication from within the dispenser as the membrane is cut.
17. A method for dispensing items stored within a dispenser comprising:
applying a downward force to a blister disposed on an upper surface of an upper membrane that forms a top of the dispenser, thereby deforming the blister and decreasing an internal volume of the dispenser;
increasing the pressure within the dispenser by decreasing the internal volume of the dispenser;
cutting a lower membrane, which seals the dispenser, with an annular cutter which extends down from within the blister towards the lower membrane.
18. The method of claim 17 further comprising propelling the items from within the dispenser by using the increased pressure to propel the items from within the dispenser after the lower membrane is cut.
19. The method of claim 18 wherein cutting the lower membrane comprises pushing the annular cutter through a portion of the membrane by applying the downward force to the blister.
20. The method of claim 19 wherein cutting the lower membrane comprises cutting a piece of the membrane such that a small portion of the piece remains attached to the membrane thereby preventing the cut piece from being propelled or otherwise released with the items.
21. A dispenser for storing and dispensing material, comprising:
an upper membrane comprising at least one flexible dome, each dome defining a central void;
a lower membrane attached to the bottom of the upper membrane; and
an annular punch disposed within the interior volume of each dome, said annular punch having a cutting edge generally perpendicular to the lower membrane, and resting above the lower membrane.
22. The dispenser of claim 21 wherein the annular punch disposed within the interior volume of each dome is integral to each dome.
23. The dispenser of claim 21 wherein the annular punch disposed within the interior volume of each dome is free floating within each dome.
24. The dispenser of claim 21 wherein medication is stored with an inner circumference of at least one of the annular cutters.
25. The dispenser of claim 21 wherein the at least one flexible dome deforms downwardly and pushes the corresponding annular cutter against the lower membrane to cut through the membrane when an external downward force is applied to the top of that dome.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS:

[0001] This application is a Continuation-In-Part of a previously filed utility application, Ser. No. 09/491,496 filed on Jan. 25, 2000.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Technical Field

[0003] This invention relates to an apparatus for protecting and dispensing items such as medication in solid, powder or liquid form, and more particularly, to an apparatus which can be used by a person to safely carry such items while protecting the items from damage or exposure and allowing the person to immediately and easily access those items.

[0004] 2. Related Art

[0005] “Blister packs” or “soft packs” are sometimes used to carry items, such as specific dosage medication in pill or powder form, in readily accessible, individually sealed and sterile compartments. Individual compartments making up the blister pack may be opened exclusively of any other compartments in the pack. Typically, these compartments are opened by pushing the contents of the compartment through a frangible membrane sealing the compartment, or by peeling back a covering forming part of the compartment.

[0006] The frangible membrane used to seal the individual compartments of blister packs must be made weak enough that the contents of the compartment may be forced through the frangible wall or membrane without being damaged. However, the unfortunate result of this construction is that weak membranes are subject to tearing or rupturing. For example, if a blister pack is carried in a user's pocket along with a set of keys or other hard items, it is not uncommon for damage to the membranes sealing one or more compartments to occur. Damage to a compartment typically exposes the contents of that compartment to environmental conditions such as moisture or contamination that can render the contents unusable.

[0007] The frangible membrane used to seal a compartment may be made strong enough to minimize the possibility of inadvertent tearing or rupturing. However, while increased strength may appear desirable, the usefulness of such a configuration is limited in that forcing the contents of the compartment through the membrane can become increasingly difficult as the strength of the membrane is increased. Further, the structural integrity of the contents of the compartment must be considered when increasing the strength of the membrane. For example, nitroglycerin pills, often carried by a person suffering from angina pectoris, are very soft, having a consistency similar to compacted powdered sugar. Attempting to force such pills through even a very weak membrane will tend to pulverize the pills, with the result that the medication is difficult or impossible to ingest.

[0008] Further, it is often desirable to place liquids or powders within a compartment of a blister pack. It is difficult to force such compositions through a frangible membrane. Making a membrane weak enough to allow its use with liquids or powders often creates a configuration that is extremely susceptible to damage by tearing and/or rupturing.

[0009] Blister pack configurations having coverings that may be peeled back to expose the contents of a compartment in the pack also have problems. For example, it is not uncommon for an area of the covering to tear away in such a manner as to expose more than one compartment. Where it is not desired to open or expose more than one compartment at a time, the contents of any additional fully or partially opened compartments may be exposed to moisture or other contaminants that render those contents unusable.

[0010] Further, a common problem associated with peelable coverings is that such coverings tend to give way suddenly as the surface area to which they are attached decreases while they are being peeled back. In such cases, the contents of the compartment enclosed by the cover may be flung out of the compartment as the cover suddenly gives way. This may result in damage or contamination of the contents, thereby rendering the contents unusable. In addition, such configurations are not suitable for use in containing liquids or powders, as the possibility of spillage is dramatically increased.

[0011] Various solutions have been devised in an attempt to address some of the problems described above. For example, some blister packs have sharp external prongs designed to pierce a cover or seal, then to pierce the skin against which such blister packs are pressed. These blister packs have been designed to deliver intracutaneous injections of liquid medication that coats the prongs. Such configurations are not capable of delivering powdered or solid medications or other items.

[0012] Other designs use cumbersome or complicated external cutter devices designed to cut the covering of a compartment in a blister pack. For example, some blister packs have external cutters that must be pressed through a frangible covering, rotated to cut or tear the covering, then pulled back or removed to expose the contents of the compartment. Such devices can be complicated and expensive to manufacture. Further, such devices may be difficult to operate, especially where they are designed to provide “child resistance,” and/or where the user has trembling or unsteady hands, or is otherwise impaired.

[0013] Still other blister pack designs use sharpened prongs within the compartments of the pack to pierce a frangible covering to allow mixing of a binary compound contained within sub-compartments. However, simply piercing the covering in one or more places does not provide an adequate opening to allow the contents of a compartment to be quickly and completely evacuated or removed from the compartment. Often, especially with powders and liquids, a portion of the contents remains in the compartment and is lost because the prongs do not create a sufficient path for complete egress of the contents. Consequently, use of such designs requires either increasing the volume of the liquid or powder to account for the loss, or simply ignoring the issue altogether.

[0014] Still other solutions, such as requiring the blister pack to be placed within separate mechanisms having cutters designed to open one or more compartments, have been suggested. Such devices tend to be relatively expensive and complicated, especially where they must also function as a medication dispenser for liquid and/or powder medications.

[0015] Accordingly, there is a need for a device that reduces or eliminates the problems described above with respect to the use of current blister pack type containers, while simultaneously accentuating the strengths associated with such containers. In particular, this device should ensure that a blister pack type container could be sealed with a membrane or covering of sufficient strength to prevent inadvertent tearing or rupturing. To ensure that the contents of a compartment within the container are protected during removal, the device should ensure the contents of the compartment would not be directly forced through the membrane or covering in order to open the compartment, or that the covering be manually peeled back to expose the contents of the compartment. Further, the device should ensure that blister pack type container will work equally well with solids, powders, soft or semi-solid items, or liquids without requiring external cutters or opening devices. In addition, the device should ensure that, upon opening, the blister pack type container would provide an open path for complete evacuation of liquids and powders. The device should ensure the blister pack type containers would be extremely easy to open, even where the user was in an impaired state, or had unsteady or shaking hands. Finally, the device should be simple and inexpensive to manufacture.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0016] To overcome the limitations in the related art described above, and to overcome other limitations that will become apparent upon reading and understanding the present application, the present invention is embodied in a protective surround in combination with an “internal ejector punch.” The internal ejector punch is either integral to an upper membrane of the protective surround, or is simply disposed within a dome or bubble of a conventional blister-pack type device. For example, in the case of a protective surround such as a blister pack, the internal ejector punch provides the capability to safely protect items within the blister pack such as medication in solid, soft or semi-solid, powder, or liquid form, while allowing such items to be easily and rapidly dispensed from the blister pack by a user. Further, the internal ejector punch is designed to be substantially stronger than the relatively soft blister-pack type container, thereby providing the added benefit of protecting items stored within the internal ejector punch in a manner that would not be possible using only a conventional blister-pack type container.

[0017] In general, the present invention is embodied in an “internal ejector punch” defining a central open ended void or chamber within which items that are to be dispensed are disposed. In one embodiment, this internal ejector punch is placed within a dome or blister of a conventional “blister pack” type container that is defined by a flexible upper membrane including at least one depressing dome extending from the top surface of the upper membrane, and a lower membrane which is sealed to the bottom of the upper membrane, thereby defining one or more storage compartments within the container. Alternately, the internal ejector punch is integral to the upper surface of the dome or blister. One advantage of providing an internal ejector punch which is separate from either membrane is that such an internal ejector punch can simply be placed into existing blister pack type container designs without the need to redesign such containers, or even retool the machinery used to fabricate such containers.

[0018] In either embodiment, items to be dispensed from within the container are stored within the central void or chamber of the internal ejector punch which serves the dual purpose of protecting those items and providing a mechanism for the easy and safe removal of the items from within the individual compartments of the container. Specifically, in either embodiment, the lower membrane of the container serves to seal items such as pills, powders, or liquids within the central void of the internal ejector punch between the pill pack's upper and lower membranes, while the internal ejector punch serves to cut open the lower membrane to allow for the safe and easy extraction of the items from within the container when a sufficient downward force is applied to the dome or blister defining the upper surface of the compartments.

[0019] Specifically, as noted above, the internal ejector punch resides within the compartment defined by the depressing dome of the upper membrane, and is sealed into the compartment by the lower membrane. Further, also as noted above, the internal ejector punch is either separate from either membrane, or integral to the upper membrane, while the medication or other items to be dispensed reside with the void defined by the internal ejector punch. A cutting portion of the internal ejector punch along the open end of the internal ejector punch is oriented approximately perpendicular to the upper and lower membranes, with the cutting portion of each internal ejector punch being arrayed within a corresponding compartment so as to cut through the lower membrane as described below. Pills, powders, liquids or other items are sealed within the void or chamber of the internal ejector punch between the upper and lower membranes of the pill pack or blister pack type container. Note that as is common with such pill pack or blister pack type containers, the containers may include individual storage compartments, or storage compartments arranged in rows and/or columns, or any other desired arrangement in order to provide a desired amount of storage.

[0020] The lower membrane is of sufficient strength to prevent inadvertent tearing or rupturing of the membrane, even when carried in a relatively hostile environment, such as with metal keys in a user's pocket. However, the internal ejector punch is capable of cutting through this membrane by simply depressing the dome thereby providing an open path for rapid and complete evacuation of the chamber contents.

[0021] In operation, a user depresses the depressing dome or blister of a particular compartment within the container which forces the cutter portion of the internal ejector punch through the lower membrane of that compartment, thereby opening the lower membrane and allowing the easy and complete release of the contents from the open end of the internal ejector punch within the compartment. Unlike more complicated devices which require manipulation of external cutter devices, or carefully peeling back a membrane, a user having unsteady or shaking hands would be able to depress the dome to open the compartment thereby releasing the contents of the open ended void or chamber of the internal ejector punch.

[0022] Further, in one embodiment, because the volume of the chamber decreases as the dome is depressed, the internal pressure within the chamber increases prior to cutting the lower membrane. This increased pressure serves to propel the contents out of the open ended void or chamber of the internal ejector punch as the lower membrane is cut. This feature is especially useful in dispensing powders and liquids.

[0023] For example, in one embodiment, the internal ejector punch is used in a blister pack comprising individual doses of medication within individual domes of the blister pack. As the dome is depressed, the cutter portion of the internal ejector punch cuts the lower membrane, and the increased pressure within the chamber propels the medication within the chamber out where a user has immediate access to the dose of medication. Note that in alternate embodiments, the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch includes a serrated edge to allow for easier cutting of the lower membrane. Further, in alternate embodiments, the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch is notched, or otherwise discontinuous along its circumference so as to ensure that at least a portion of the lower membrane remains attached after being cut. This embodiment is useful for ensuring that the portion of the lower membrane that is cut by the cutter is not completely cut loose from the blister pack type container during use.

[0024] In addition, because there are no moving parts, simply an internal ejector punch which is either disposed within blisters or domes of a conventional blister pack or the like, or integral to the upper membrane of the blister pack or other protective surround, the internal ejector punch can be easily and inexpensively fabricated by methods such as injection molding using a thermoplastic-type compound. Note that with conventional blister pack type containers, the lower membrane is typically inexpensively and easily fabricated from any suitable material such as, for example, metal foil or plastic. The upper and lower membranes of such conventional blister pack type containers are preferably bonded together, using conventional techniques, to hermetically seal the contents of at least one chamber.

[0025] Finally, note that in alternate embodiments, the internal ejector punch is injection molded or otherwise fabricated in any desired shape, so as to securely protect the contents which are disposed within the internal ejector punch while providing a cutter for cutting through the protective surround or membrane used to seal both the internal ejector punch and the item or items disposed within. As noted above, the cutting of the lower membrane by the cutter on the open end of the void or chamber of the internal ejector punch provides for immediate access to the item or items disposed within the internal ejector punch. Again, this cutting is achieved by simply pushing or depressing the dome or blister covering the internal ejector punch, thereby forcing the cutter portion of the internal ejector punch through the lower membrane or protective surround, thus opening the lower membrane or protective surround and releasing the contents of the open ended void or chamber of the internal ejector punch to the user.

[0026] The foregoing and still further features and advantages of the present invention as well as a more complete understanding thereof will be made apparent from a study of the following detailed description of the invention in connection with the accompanying drawings and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0027] The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee. The specific features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings where:

[0028]FIG. 1A illustrates a top view of a blister pack type container having a single storage compartment according to the present invention.

[0029]FIG. 1B illustrates a top view of a blister pack type container having a row of storage compartments according to the present invention.

[0030]FIG. 1C illustrates a top view of a blister pack type container having both rows and columns of storage compartments according to the present invention.

[0031]FIG. 2A illustrates a perspective view, partially broken away, of the blister pack type container of FIG. 1B, illustrating an internal ejector punch disposed within a storage compartment.

[0032]FIG. 2B illustrates a semi-transparent top view, partially broken away of a blister pack type container, illustrating an internal ejector punch disposed within a storage compartment of the container.

[0033]FIG. 3 illustrates a schematic side elevation of a blister pack type container, illustrating an internal ejector punch integral to a top membrane of the container, shown with a stored item.

[0034]FIG. 4 illustrates a schematic side elevation of the blister pack type container of FIG. 3, shown after dispensing the stored item.

[0035]FIG. 5 illustrates a schematic side elevation of a blister pack type container, illustrating an internal ejector punch placed within a blister or dome of the container, shown with a stored item.

[0036]FIG. 6 illustrates a schematic side elevation of the blister pack type container of FIG. 5, shown after dispensing the stored item.

[0037]FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a free floating internal ejector punch shown for use in a blister pack type container.

[0038]FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a free floating internal ejector multi-punch shown for use in a blister pack type container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0039] In the following description of the invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration a specific example in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0040] 1.0 Overview:

[0041] The present invention is embodied in a protective surround in combination with an “internal ejector punch.” The internal ejector punch is either integral to an upper membrane of the protective surround, or is simply disposed within a dome or bubble of a conventional blister-pack type device. For example, in the case of a protective surround such as a blister pack, the internal ejector punch provides the capability to safely protect items within the blister pack such as medication in solid, soft or semi-solid, powder, or liquid form, while allowing such items to be easily and rapidly dispensed from the blister pack by a user. Further, the internal ejector punch is designed to be substantially stronger than the relatively soft blister-pack type container, thereby providing the added benefit of protecting items stored within the internal ejector punch in a manner that would not be possible using only a conventional blister-pack type container.

[0042] In general, the present invention is embodied in an “internal ejector punch” defining a central open ended void or chamber within which items that are to be dispensed are disposed. In one embodiment, this internal ejector punch is placed within a dome or blister of a conventional “blister pack” type container that is defined by a flexible upper membrane including at least one depressing dome extending from the top surface of the upper membrane, and a lower membrane which is sealed to the bottom of the upper membrane, thereby defining one or more storage compartments within the container. Alternately, the internal ejector punch is integral to the upper surface of the dome or blister. One advantage of providing an internal ejector punch which is separate from either membrane is that such an internal ejector punch can simply be placed into existing blister pack type container designs without the need to redesign such containers, or even retool the machinery used to fabricate such containers.

[0043] In either embodiment, items to be dispensed from within the container are stored within the central void or chamber of the internal ejector punch which serves the dual purpose of protecting those items and providing a mechanism for the easy and safe removal of the items from within the individual compartments of the container. Specifically, in either embodiment, the lower membrane of the container serves to seal items such as pills, powders, or liquids within the central void of the internal ejector punch between the pill pack's upper and lower membranes, while the internal ejector punch serves to cut open the lower membrane to allow for the safe and easy extraction of the items from within the container when a sufficient downward force is applied to the dome or blister defining the upper surface of the compartments.

[0044] Specifically, as noted above, the internal ejector punch resides within the compartment defined by the depressing dome of the upper membrane, and is sealed into the compartment by the lower membrane. Further, also as noted above, the internal ejector punch is either separate from either membrane, or integral to the upper membrane, while the medication or other items to be dispensed reside with the void defined by the internal ejector punch. A cutting portion of the internal ejector punch along the open end of the internal ejector punch is oriented approximately perpendicular to the upper and lower membranes, with the cutting portion of each internal ejector punch being arrayed within a corresponding compartment so as to cut through the lower membrane as described below. Pills, powders, liquids or other items are sealed within the void or chamber of the internal ejector punch between the upper and lower membranes of the pill pack or blister pack type container. Note that as is common with such pill pack or blister pack type containers, the containers may include individual storage compartments, or storage compartments arranged in rows and/or columns, or any other desired arrangement in order to provide a desired amount of storage.

[0045] The lower membrane is of sufficient strength to prevent inadvertent tearing or rupturing of the membrane, even when carried in a relatively hostile environment, such as with metal keys in a user's pocket. However, the internal ejector punch is capable of cutting through this membrane by simply depressing the dome thereby providing an open path for rapid and complete evacuation of the chamber contents.

[0046] In operation, a user depresses the depressing dome or blister of a particular compartment within the container which forces the cutter portion of the internal ejector punch through the lower membrane of that compartment, thereby opening the lower membrane and allowing the easy and complete release of the contents from the open end of the internal ejector punch within the compartment. Unlike more complicated devices which require manipulation of external cutter devices, or carefully peeling back a membrane, a user having unsteady or shaking hands would be able to depress the dome to open the compartment thereby releasing the contents of the open ended void or chamber of the internal ejector punch.

[0047] Further, in one embodiment, because the volume of the chamber decreases as the dome is depressed, the internal pressure within the chamber increases prior to cutting the lower membrane. This increased pressure serves to propel the contents out of the open ended void or chamber of the internal ejector punch as the lower membrane is cut. This feature is especially useful in dispensing powders and liquids.

[0048] For example, in one embodiment, the internal ejector punch is used in a blister pack comprising individual doses of medication within individual domes of the blister pack. As the dome is depressed, the cutter portion of the internal ejector punch cuts the lower membrane, and the increased pressure within the chamber propels the medication within the chamber out where a user has immediate access to the dose of medication. Note that in alternate embodiments, the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch includes a serrated edge to allow for easier cutting of the lower membrane. Further, in alternate embodiments, the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch is notched, or otherwise discontinuous along its circumference so as to ensure that at least a portion of the lower membrane remains attached after being cut. This embodiment is useful for ensuring that the portion of the lower membrane that is cut by the cutter is not completely cut loose from the blister pack type storage container during use.

[0049] In addition, because there are no moving parts, simply an internal ejector punch which is either disposed within blisters or domes of a conventional blister pack or the like, or integral to the upper membrane of the blister pack or other protective surround, the internal ejector punch can be easily and inexpensively fabricated by methods such as injection molding using a thermoplastic-type compound. Note that with conventional blister pack type containers, the lower membrane is typically inexpensively and easily fabricated from any suitable material such as, for example, metal foil or plastic. The upper and lower membranes of such conventional blister pack type containers are preferably bonded together, using conventional techniques, to hermetically seal the contents of at least one chamber.

[0050] Finally, note that in alternate embodiments, the internal ejector punch is injection molded or otherwise fabricated in any desired shape, so as to securely protect the contents which are disposed within the internal ejector punch while providing a cutter for cutting through the protective surround or membrane used to seal both the internal ejector punch and the item or items disposed within. As noted above, the cutting of the lower membrane by the cutter on the open end of the void or chamber of the internal ejector punch provides for immediate access to the item or items disposed within the internal ejector punch. Again, this cutting is achieved by simply pushing or depressing the dome or blister covering the internal ejector punch, thereby forcing the cutter portion of the internal ejector punch through the lower membrane or protective surround, thus opening the lower membrane or protective surround and releasing the contents of the open ended void or chamber of the internal ejector punch to the user.

[0051] An internal ejector punch as described herein is preferably fabricated of a thermoplastic compound, but may be fabricated of any suitably flexible material that will not react chemically with the contents stored within the internal ejector punch. Further, because the material of the blister pack type container in which the internal ejector punch is disposed is preferably non-permeable to air and/or moisture, such containers provide a hermetically sealed storage environment.

[0052]FIGS. 1A, 1B, and 1C show exemplary arrangements of a blister pack type storage container having one or more dispensing chambers 110 in accordance with the present invention. The chambers 110 may be singular, as in FIG. 1A, or multiple chambers may be joined as in FIGS. 1B or 1C, or in any other desired arrangement. Each chamber 110 is capable of containing items in a small, hermetically sealed area, until such time as use of the contained items is required. The material between the chambers is preferably perforated to allow a user to separate one or more dispensing chambers 110, either before or after expending the contents of those chambers.

[0053] 2.0 Components:

[0054]FIG. 2A shows a perspective view of a “strip” of blister pack type storage containers in accordance with the present invention. Each blister pack is preferably formed of a flexible upper membrane 200 having a depressing dome 210. An internal ejector punch 220 is disposed within the dome 210. As noted above, in alternate embodiments, the internal ejector punch 220 is either integral to the dome 210, or simply placed within the dome.

[0055]FIG. 2B is a schematic view of the blister pack type storage container showing the flexible upper membrane 200, the dome 210, the internal ejector punch 220, and the internal chamber 240. In one embodiment, the upper membrane 200, dome 210 and internal ejector punch 220, are preferably of unitary construction, made from a flexible plastic material, preferably in a single injection molding operation. This is advantageous in that the blister pack type container with the integral internal ejector punch can be easily and inexpensively manufactured because it is effectively comprised of only two sections, an upper section having the dome 210 with the internal ejector punch 220 which together form the chamber 240, and a lower section comprising the lower membrane 230 that is used to seal the upper section. However, the blister pack type storage container may also be made from other materials of suitable flexibility, and need not be of unitary construction.

[0056] In an alternate embodiment, the internal ejector punch 220 is simply placed within a dome or blister of a conventional “blister pack” type container that is defined by a flexible upper membrane 200 including at least one depressing dome 210 extending from the top surface of the upper membrane, and a lower membrane 230 which is sealed to the bottom of the upper membrane, thereby defining one or more storage compartments or chambers 240 within the container. As noted above, this embodiment is advantageous in that it provides an internal ejector punch 220 which is separate from either membrane, 200 or 230, and the internal ejector punch can simply be placed into existing blister pack type container designs without the need to redesign such containers, or even retool the machinery used to fabricate such containers.

[0057] The upper membrane 200 is preferably formed of a flexible plastic material. The upper membrane 200 may be made as large or small as desired in order to accommodate the desired number of dispensing chambers 240. For example, as shown in FIGS. 1A through 1C, the upper membrane 200 may consist of a single dispensing chamber 240, or as many dispensing chambers as desired, arranged in multiple rows and/or columns.

[0058] The material of the upper membrane 200 between the chambers 240 is preferably segmented and/or perforated such that a user can separate one or more dispensing chambers 240 from the body of the upper membrane, either before or after expending the contents of those chambers. However, in one embodiment, fabrication of the upper membrane without segmentation of the dispensing chambers serves to reduce the production cost.

[0059] In general, the internal ejector punch 220 is forced through the lower membrane 230 as an operator depresses the flexible dome 210. As the dome 210 is depressed, the pressure within the dome increases until the cutters of the internal ejector punch 220 cut through the lower membrane 230. Once the lower membrane 230 is cut, the increased pressure within the dome 210 helps to expel the contents of the dispensing chamber 240.

[0060] As noted above, in one embodiment, the internal ejector punch 220 is an annular-shaped cutter or punch with the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch extending from one end of the internal ejector punch towards the lower membrane 230. As shown in FIG. 2B, the cutter 220 preferably has a gap or notch 250 in its circumference. The notch 250 prevents the lower membrane 230 from being completely cut loose from the blister pack type storage container during use. Further, the notch 250 is sufficiently narrow that the small portion of the lower membrane 230 that is not cut during operation will not interfere with dispensation or egress of the chamber 240 contents. The cutter 220 creates a hole through the lower membrane 230 sufficient to provide an open path for rapid and complete evacuation of the chamber contents.

[0061] Note that in alternate embodiments, the internal ejector punch 220 can have any cross section desired. For example, rather than being limited to an annular shaped cutter, the internal ejector punch 220 can be specially shaped to fit the contents which it is designed to protect. For example, the internal ejector punch 220 can have any of a square, rectangular, circular, or any other geometric cross section as desired.

[0062] Regardless of the cross sectional shape of the internal ejector punch 220, the internal ejector punch is preferably disposed within the dome 210, whether integral or free floating, as described above, and is oriented between and generally perpendicular to the upper and lower membranes 200 and 230, respectively. As noted above, in one embodiment, the upper end of the internal ejector punch 220 is attached to the interior surface of the dome 210, with the bottom end of the internal ejector punch floating above the lower membrane 230 prior to use.

[0063]FIG. 3 shows a side view of one embodiment of the internal ejector punch 220 showing the flexible upper membrane 200 with the depressing dome. Note that in this embodiment, the internal ejector punch 220 is integral to the dome 210. In one embodiment, this dome 210 is hermetically sealed with the lower membrane 230, to form a dispensing chamber 240, after dispensable items are placed with the dome. As illustrated by FIG. 3, the internal ejector punch 220 is disposed within the dome 210 surrounding one or more dispensable items 300.

[0064] As shown in FIG. 3, the depressing dome 210 forms an integral part of the upper membrane 200, and is preferably formed at the same time as the upper membrane as one continuous piece. The flexibility of the membrane is preferably such that the dome 210 is stiff enough to protect the contents of the dispensing chamber 240, yet flexible enough to deform downwardly and inwardly when the user applies a downward force to the top of the dome 210. However, it should be noted that in one embodiment, the portion of the internal ejector punch 220 which forms the central open ended void or chamber within which items that are to be dispensed are disposed is substantially less flexible than the upper membrane in order to provide additional protection to items stored with the borders of the internal ejector punch.

[0065] Alternately, as illustrated by FIG. 5 and FIG. 6, a base of the internal ejector punch 220 rests on the lower membrane within the dispensing chamber 240. In this embodiment, the base of the internal ejector punch 220 extends below the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch. Consequently, the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch again floats above the lower membrane 230 prior to use. Note that as illustrated by FIG. 6, in this embodiment, the sides of the internal ejector punch 220 flex as the depressing dome 210 is depressed, thereby allowing the cutting portion of the internal ejector punch to come into contact with, and thereby cut through, the lower membrane 230.

[0066] As shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, the lower end of the internal ejector punch 220 is sufficiently sharp to easily and rapidly cut through the lower membrane 230 when the user depresses the dome 210. However, the cutter 220 is preferably not sharp enough to cut through skin, or otherwise cause injury to the user as it protrudes beyond the lower membrane 230 during and after use. User operation with either the integral internal ejector punch, or the free floating internal ejector punch is identical. Note that in alternate embodiments, the lower end of the internal ejector punch for cutting through the lower membrane 230 is designed to cut through particular lower membrane types. For example, the lower end of the internal ejector punch 220 can be flat, serrated, or any other desired cutting shape or configuration.

[0067] The dispensing chamber 240 is disposed within the depressing dome 210. The sides of the dispensing chamber 240 are formed by the interior of the structure of the internal ejector punch 220. The top of the chamber 240 is formed by the interior of the depressing dome 210 (which is formed from the upper membrane 200), while the lower membrane 230 forms the bottom of the chamber. Consequently, items stored within the chamber 220 are surrounded by the internal ejector punch 220, and covered by the upper and lower membranes 200 and 230.

[0068] The lower membrane 230 is preferably formed from a metal foil or plastic material. The lower membrane 230 is preferably of sufficient strength to prevent inadvertent tearing or rupturing of the membrane, even when carried in a relatively hostile environment, such as with metal keys in a users pocket. However, the strength of the lower membrane 230 is such that the internal ejector punch 220 is capable of cutting through this membrane by simply depressing the dome 210 using a reasonable amount of force.

[0069] The lower membrane 230 is bonded to the base of the upper membrane 200 once the chambers 240 are filled with the desired contents. Bonding of the lower membrane 230 to the upper membrane 200 creates a hermetically sealed storage chamber 240 which protects the stored items until such time as the user depresses the dome 210 to cut the lower membrane and eject the chamber contents.

[0070] 3.0 Operation:

[0071]FIG. 3 shows an item such as a pill 300 stored within the internal chamber 240 within the internal diameter of an integral internal ejector punch 220. In operation, as illustrated by FIG. 4, a user depresses the depressing dome 210 which forces the cutting end of the internal ejector punch 220 through the lower membrane 230, thereby opening the lower membrane and allowing the release of the pill 300, or other contents of the chamber 240 to the user.

[0072] Similarly, FIG. 5 shows an item such as a pill 500 stored within the internal chamber 240 within the internal diameter of a free floating internal ejector punch 220. In operation, as illustrated by FIG. 6, a user depresses the depressing dome 210 which forces the cutting end of the internal ejector punch 220 through the lower membrane 230, thereby opening the lower membrane and allowing the release of the pill 500, or other contents of the chamber 240 to the user.

[0073] In either embodiment, unlike with more complicated devices which require manipulation of external cutter devices, or carefully peeling back a membrane or seal, a user having unsteady or shaking hands would typically be able to depress the dome 210 to open the chamber 240 thereby releasing the contents.

[0074] Because the lower membrane 230 is cut to allow egress of the chamber 240 contents, the internal ejector punch 220 of the present invention ensures that the contents of the chamber are not forced through the lower membrane as is typical of other “blister pack” type devices. This feature is advantageous in that it may be difficult or impossible to rupture or break a lower membrane without a cutter or punch where the chamber contains a liquid, powder, or other relatively soft item. In addition, use of the internal ejector punch 220 prevents damage to relatively soft items, such as nitroglycerin pills, which could not be forced through a membrane or seal without being pulverized.

[0075] Further, as shown in FIG. 4 and FIG. 6, the volume of the chamber 240 decreases as the dome 210 is depressed. Because the dome 210 is flexible, it deforms downwardly and inwardly when pressure is applied to its top surface, thereby decreasing the volume within the chamber 240. Consequently, the internal pressure within the chamber 240 is increased as the volume is decreased prior to cutting the lower membrane 230. The increased pressure preferably assists in expelling or propelling the contents out of the chamber 240 as the internal ejector punch 220 cuts the lower membrane 230. This feature is especially useful in ensuring complete and rapid dispensing of powders or liquids from within the chamber 240.

[0076] 4.0 Additional Embodiments:

[0077] As discussed above, with reference to FIG. 5, FIG. 6, in one embodiment, the internal ejector punch 220 is simply placed within a blister pack type container rather than being integral to the dome of such a container. Consequently, such an internal ejector punch 220 can be said to be free floating, as it is not attached to either the upper or the lower membrane of such a container. FIG. 7 provides a three-dimensional photographic view of an exemplary free-floating internal ejector punch 220. Note that the shape of this internal ejector punch 220 is generally hemispherical; with the center portion of the internal ejector punch 220 including a cutting edge on its lower surface for penetrating the lower membrane during use as described above.

[0078] As should be appreciated by those skill in the art, the general shape of this internal ejector punch 220 is ideally suited to be placed into any of a number of pre-existing conventional blister pack type containers without the need redesign or otherwise modify such conventional containers. Consequently, this embodiment of the internal ejector punch 220 is especially useful where extra protection and ease of access to stored items within a blister pack type container is a concern because the internal ejector punch 220 can simply be added to such containers as the containers are filled with medication or other items prior to being sealed.

[0079] In a related embodiment, the internal ejector punch 220 is a “multi-punch.” In particular, as illustrated by FIG. 8, an internal ejector multi-punch 820 includes one or more internal ejector punches integrated into a single unit. Such a single unit can be easily fabricated via conventional processes such as, for example injection molding of thermoplastic-type materials. Note that in this embodiment, a blister pack type container is assembled by bonding or otherwise sealing an upper membrane 800 to a lower membrane 830. Note that as described above, prior to bonding the upper and lower membranes, the internal ejector punch, which in this case is the internal ejector multi-punch 820 and the items 840 to be dispensed are first placed between the upper and lower membranes. Note as with the blister pack type containers described above, the upper membrane includes a depressing dome 810 for each chamber within the blister pack type container.

[0080] In this embodiment, the internal ejector multi-punch 820 includes a separate punch for each chamber of the blister pack type container, with each punch being held above the lower membrane by a flexible arm extending from the body of the internal ejector multi-punch 820.

[0081] Clearly, this embodiment is not limited to the configuration shown. For example, any number of punches, in any desired configuration and shape, can be fabricated into a single internal ejector multi-punch 820, then sealed between an upper and a lower membrane, as shown, for use in dispensing medication or other items from within the chambers of the blister pack type container.

[0082] The foregoing description of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. For example, the internal ejector punch may be scaled to any desirable size or shape and placed within a suitably sized blister pack type container to carry larger or smaller items such as, for example, electronic components or food items. Further, the shape of the dome may be varied without adversely affecting its utility. For example, the dome may be hemispherical, cubical, or any other shape capable of containing internal ejector punch and the dispensable items. It is intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7779614May 30, 2008Aug 24, 2010Walgreen Co.Method of loading a multi-dose blister card using intermediate blister cards
US7818950May 30, 2008Oct 26, 2010Walgreen Co.Method of loading a multi-dose blister card using a transfer fixture
US7861712Apr 23, 2004Jan 4, 2011Manta Product DevelopmentSealed capsule including an integrated puncturing mechanism
US7866476May 30, 2008Jan 11, 2011Walgreen Co.Multi-dose blister card pillbook
US7937911Nov 21, 2008May 10, 2011Walgreen Co.Method of preparing a blister card
US7946101May 30, 2008May 24, 2011Walgreen Co.Method and system for verification of contents of a multi-cell, multi-product blister pack
US7946448Jan 9, 2009May 24, 2011John MadeyPill dispenser
US7992477 *Jul 12, 2005Aug 9, 2011Yuyama Mfg. Co., Ltd.Medicine feeding device
US8342176Dec 20, 2010Jan 1, 2013Manta Devices, LlcSealed capsule including an integrated puncturing mechanism
US8506908 *Mar 10, 2008Aug 13, 2013Vantix Holdings LimitedElectrochemical detection system
US8550074Jan 15, 2010Oct 8, 2013Manta Devices, LlcDelivery device and related methods
US8607787Oct 9, 2012Dec 17, 2013Manta Devices, LlcDose delivery device for inhalation
US8627818Dec 28, 2012Jan 14, 2014Manta Devices, LlcSealed capsule including an integrated puncturing mechanism
US8763605Jul 20, 2006Jul 1, 2014Manta Devices, LlcInhalation device
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Classifications
U.S. Classification206/532, 206/469, 222/80
International ClassificationB65D83/04, B65D81/32, A61M15/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65D83/0463, A61M15/0051, A61M15/0061, B65D81/3211, A61M2202/064, A61M15/0045, A61M15/0035, A61M15/0041
European ClassificationA61M15/00C2, B65D83/04C2, B65D81/32B1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 15, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: VIA CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BURRIDGE, MICHAEL D.;REEL/FRAME:013393/0454
Effective date: 20021004