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Publication numberUS20040074925 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/416,572
PCT numberPCT/FR2001/003555
Publication dateApr 22, 2004
Filing dateNov 13, 2001
Priority dateNov 13, 2000
Also published asCA2428494A1, CA2428494C, CN1251934C, CN1474774A, DE60138910D1, EP1339616A1, EP1339616B1, WO2002038464A1
Publication number10416572, 416572, PCT/2001/3555, PCT/FR/1/003555, PCT/FR/1/03555, PCT/FR/2001/003555, PCT/FR/2001/03555, PCT/FR1/003555, PCT/FR1/03555, PCT/FR1003555, PCT/FR103555, PCT/FR2001/003555, PCT/FR2001/03555, PCT/FR2001003555, PCT/FR200103555, US 2004/0074925 A1, US 2004/074925 A1, US 20040074925 A1, US 20040074925A1, US 2004074925 A1, US 2004074925A1, US-A1-20040074925, US-A1-2004074925, US2004/0074925A1, US2004/074925A1, US20040074925 A1, US20040074925A1, US2004074925 A1, US2004074925A1
InventorsMichel Faurie
Original AssigneeMichel Faurie
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Drip liquid dispenser
US 20040074925 A1
Abstract
The invention relates to a packaging device for a liquid that is to be dispensed drop by drop, comprising a container (1) with manually elastically deformable walls, which ends in a rigid neck (3) in which a head (4) for dispensing the liquid is mounted. A membrane (31) which is both hydrophilic and hydrophobic, advantageously antibacterial, is arranged in the dispensing head (4) across the passage of the liquid towards a duct expelling it to the outside. This membrane allows external air to enter the container (1) once the liquid has passed through it in the expulsion phase, and the bottle reverts elastically to its initial shape after each dispensing operation. A frangible partition (7) isolates the membrane from the liquid contained in the bottle until the time of first use whereupon it is fractured by a striker secured to the said dispensing head (4).
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Claims(11)
1. Packaging bottle for a liquid that is to be dispensed drop by drop, comprising a container (1) having a rigid neck (3) in which is mounted a dispensing head (4) forming an external endpiece (11) pierced with a duct for expelling the liquid from the said container (1), characterized in that it the said container consists of a deformable cylindrical wall closed, at its lower part, by a rigid cap (2) which is fixed on after the container (1) has been filled, and in that the said container has an elastically deformable boundary wall (6) for expelling a fraction of the liquid contained in the reservoir during each dispensing operation, in that the said dispensing head comprises, mounted across the path of the liquid thus expelled from the container, a membrane (31) which is partially hydrophilic, to allow the liquid to pass under the effect of a raised pressure exerted in the container by the deformation of the wall, and partially hydrophobic so that the membrane wetted by the expelled liquid nonetheless allows air from the outside to enter the container when the container elastically reverts to its initial shape, and in that it comprises a frangible partition (7) secured to the container for isolating the said membrane (31) from the liquid contained in the container (1) up to the time of first use, the said partition being torn by the passage of the said dispensing head from a security position into an availability position.
2. Bottle according to claim 1, characterized in that the said membrane is made of a hydrophilic polymer, particularly one based on polyamide or polyether sulphone, which is made hydrophobic over a zone covering from 20 to 50% of its area and which has a pore diameter advantageously of the order of 0.1 or 0.2 microns, capable of preventing contaminants present in the outside air from entering the bottle.
3. Bottle according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the said wall of the container is of cylindrical shape and is elastically deformable by manual compression so as to create a raised pressure in the container to cause liquid to be expelled during each dispensing operation, the elastic return of the container to its initial shape causing unexpelled liquid to be sucked back out of the endpiece and external air allowed in to compensate for the liquid expelled.
4. Bottle according to claim 3, characterized in that the said container is closed at the bottom, at the opposite end to the said dispensing head, by a rigid bottom cap to be fixed to its cylindrical wall equipped with the dispensing head after the bottle has been filled.
5. Bottle according to any one of claims 1 to 4, characterized in that the said dispensing head (4) is mounted so that it can move between two different longitudinal positions inside the said neck (3), comprising the said security position in which communication between the container (1) and the said expulsion duct (12) via the said membrane (31) is sealed off and the said availability position in which the said communication is allowed through the destruction of the frangible partition (7) and in that the said dispensing head (4) is equipped, at its lower part, with a striker (18) capable of fracturing the said partition (7) the first time the container is used, entailing a movement of driving the said dispensing head (4) into the said neck (3) of the container.
6. Bottle according to claim 5, characterized in that the said partition (1) is constructed in such a way that it therefore frees a passage cross section for the liquid that corresponds at least to one quarter of the area of the said partition.
7. Bottle according to claim 5 or 6, characterized in that the said partition (7) is made as a single piece of a material that can be moulded with the said container (1) and the said neck (3).
8. Bottle according to any one of claims 5 to 7, characterized in that the partition (7) comprises precut radial lines (33) arranged in a star configuration and in that the striker (18) comprises radial fins (19), also arranged in a uniform distribution about the longitudinal axis, the number of precut lines (33) in the membrane being different from the number of fins (19) on the striker (18).
9. Bottle according to any one of claims 5 to 8, characterized in that it comprises a tamperproofing ring (22) inserted between a shoulder (14) of the dispensing head (4) and an upper face (15) of the neck (33) of the container (1) when the dispensing head (4) is in its security position, the said shoulder (14) coming to bear on the said upper face (15) after removal of the tamperproofing ring by the driving of the body (9) of the dispensing head (4) as far as the availability position.
10. Bottle according to any one of claims 5 to 8, characterized in that it comprises a tamperproofing ring (42) mounted permanently on the neck (3) of the container (1) which is linked by breakable strips to an unscrewable stopper (5) protecting the dispensing head until the time of first use of the bottle.
11. Bottle according to any one of claims 5 to 10, characterized in that it comprises means with a ramp (45) to induce the said driving of the dispensing head (4) towards the availability position during the unscrewing of a stopper (5) protecting the said head until the first use.
Description

[0001] The present invention relates to the liquid product packaging industry, particularly to the design and manufacture of bottles comprising a built-in dropping dispensing head such as those that can be used for packaging liquids that are to be dispensed drop by drop.

[0002] Such bottles are used in numerous fields of application, particularly for packaging pharmaceutical or cosmetic products in the form of liquid, particularly in the form of aqueous solutions, but also for lubricants, colourings, solutions of additive used in the food industry, etc. These are liquid products that are used in small doses, each time expelling just a few drops from the bottle containing the liquid, while the remainder needs to be kept for a long period of time. Quite often, the product kept in the bottle has in addition to be kept away from any possibility of contamination by bacterial or other agents from the outside. This is the case, in particular, of pharmaceutical compositions, including, in particular, ophthalmic solutions, which are here going to be taken as an example of a particularly relevant industrial application of the invention.

[0003] The conditions of purity required from the product prevent from allowing ambient air to enter the bottle freely to replace, by volume, the fraction of liquid which has been expelled therefrom during each dispensing operation. It is common practice to demand that this kind of bottle be equipped with a tamperproofing means which constitutes a visual indicator that guarantees that they have not been open during the time they are in storage at the shop before being sold to an end user. However, this tamperproofing security operates only up to the time of first use of the bottle, so that it remains an entire need for a technological solution to preserve the purity during the use of the bottle by expulsion of successive doses of product.

[0004] In order to answer the problems encountered in industrial practice in the field in question, the invention essentially proposes to combine two means for the sealed closure of a part of the bottle which forms the container containing the liquid that is to be dispensed and the outside of the bottle, one being of a mechanical kind and the other being of a physicochemical kind, in a form such that air is taken in during each step of dispensing some product while at the same time avoiding the risk of contamination by agents present in the outside air. The contaminating agents to be taken into consideration are commonly of the kind including bacteria, viruses and other biological agents, especially in the context of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, but may also involve other kinds of harmful agents, particularly those which could result in destruction or denaturing of the product that is to be dispensed.

[0005] The bottle according to the invention represents significant technological progress by comparison with the currently known devices for packaging liquids that are to be dispensed drop by drop, which envisage manual deformation of the container containing the liquid that is to be dispensed which is of the plastic kind, by virtue of a cylindrical bellows configuration, something which allows the interior volume to be reduced gradually as the liquid is expelled therefrom during each dispensing step. Such a bellows-shape container needs to be protected by a rigid shell to which a dispensing head is attached, this closing the neck of the container and ending outside the latter in a duct for expelling drops, protection against contamination being obtained by means of an antibacterial filter which is arranged in the dispensing head upstream of the duct for expelling drops.

[0006] It will be readily understood that it would be advantageous to be able to dispense with the additional envelope of the container that the rigid shell represents. In fact, this scenario results in complex and expensive manufacture, both from the point of view of producing each constituent part of the assembly and from the point of view of assembling them. In addition, if, in the context of industrial manufacture, there is a desire to alter the product capacity of the bottle, this cannot be achieved without this leading to significant modifications to the production plant, and therefore a not insignificant additional cost.

[0007] Furthermore, the structure of the known bottles of this type entails that the bottles be filled at the factory before the dispensing head is fitted, that is to say while the bottle is being assembled. The industrial party producing the liquid that is to be dispensed packaged in these bottles therefore has to send to the place of manufacture all the constituent elements of the bottle to then receive the bottles ready for sale and get hold of a special machine for the filling and final assembly of the bottle, the cost of which is such that it becomes economically viable only for very high rates of use. It is therefore desirable for the operation of filling the bottle to be able to be performed outside of the factory at which the bottle is manufactured by the company who prepares the liquid that is to be dispensed, for example using a customary bottle filling machine.

[0008] The invention aims to meet the expectation of Industry in the field of the packaging of liquids that are to be dispensed in drops, including those which have just been emphasized. Its object is therefore particularly to propose a new bottle for the packaging of liquids to be dispensed drop by drop, the structure of which is simplified, and which lends itself to filling at an automated site which is autonomous from the manufacture of the bottle, and which makes it possible to obtain different capacities without huge modifications to the manufacture.

[0009] To this end, the subject of the invention is a packaging bottle for a liquid that is to be dispensed drop by drop, of the type comprising a container ending in a rigid neck in which is mounted a dispensing head forming an external endpiece pierced with a duct for expelling the liquid from the said container, which is characterized in that the said container has an elastically deformable boundary wall for expelling a fraction of the liquid contained in the reservoir during each dispensing operation, in that the said dispensing head comprises, mounted across the path of the liquid thus expelled from the container, a membrane which is partially hydrophilic, to allow the liquid to pass under the effect of a raised pressure exerted in the container by the deformation of the wall, and partially hydrophobic so that the membrane wetted by the expelled liquid nonetheless allows air from the outside to enter the container when the container elastically reverts to its initial shape, after each operation of dispensing by manual compression, and in that it additionally comprises a frangible partition secured to the container for isolating the said membrane from the liquid contained in the container up to the time of first use, the said partition being torn by the passage of the said dispensing head from a security position into an availability position.

[0010] In the preferred embodiments of the bottle according to the invention, particularly those which are particularly intended for the packaging of aqueous liquids in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics spheres, and more especially for the packaging of ophthalmic solutions, the both hydrophilic and hydrophobic membrane is also capable of preventing contaminants present in the outside air from entering the bottle. This then is an antimicrobial membrane which, depending on its pore size, can hold back microbes of greater or lesser mobility.

[0011] According to other features of the invention, the bottle has a cylindrical overall shape, or one which is at least essentially so (namely, in general, a circular or oblong cross section), and its cylindrical side wall is elastically deformable by manual compression along all or part of its surface, so as to provide the raised pressure needed to expel liquid during each dispensing operation. In conjunction with the cylindrical overall shape, provision is advantageously made for the bottom closing off the container at its lower part, longitudinally at the opposite end from the frangible partition, to consist of a rigid cap which is sealed onto the cylindrical wall after the container has been filled.

[0012] We shall now place ourselves in the context of such embodiments of the invention that are suitable as ophthalmic dropping bottles, in order to complete the description of the characteristics of the invention and of their advantages. It shall be emphasized, considering such a bottle in its usual operating conditions, that the presence of a buffer chamber between the frangible partition and the hydrophilic/hydrophobic membrane plays a significant part in the preservation of the product purity.

[0013] The use of a membrane with hydrophilic/hydrophobic properties makes it possible to use a compressible container which reverts to its initial shape after each dispensing operation by allowing in air to replace the liquid dispensed, because this air is rendered sterile by the antimicrobial properties of the membrane and because the liquid contained in the container is thus preserved from any contamination. This then makes it possible to dispense with bellows, the container being made as a single piece, which in addition has the benefit of being able to be cylindrical overall so that it can bear any useful wording.

[0014] The invention makes it possible to reduce the number of constituent parts in the bottle and this results in an appreciable reduction in the cost of manufacture. In addition, this structure makes it possible to vary the capacity of the bottle to adapt it to suit the various uses, with a very small additional investment cost.

[0015] The fact of providing a frangible partition which is secured to the container makes it possible to use a dispensing head which, at the time of manufacture of the bottle, will be fitted into the neck at the top of the container, independently of the filling, which will take place, on the other hand, from the bottom. In this way also, manufacture of the container itself will be made easier, and will advantageously be performed by moulding the assembly as a single piece comprising its cylindrical wall, its neck and its frangible partition, because this intermediate transverse partition will be accessible from both sides. It also results in a reduction in the number of parts which make up the bottle because the double envelope of the container that was formed by the assembly comprising the bellows, the volume of which varied gradually through plastic deformation of its wall, and the rigid external shell constituted in bottles of the prior art has been done away with.

[0016] Another advantage of the bottle according to the invention lies in the fact that, with the exception of the bottom cap, its parts can be fully assembled in the factory before the assembly is sent to a packaging industry which will be able to use a filling machine of the customary type in an automated filling shop. For filling, the bottles are then arranged head down, the liquid being isolated from the membrane in complete safety by the frangible partition. All that will then be needed will be the bottom of the bottle to be closed while the latter is still head down. This closure is effected by attaching the bottom cap already mentioned, the sealed attachment being performed by any technique known per se, for example involving welding, bonding and/or snap-fastening. As an alternative, it may also be performed by bonding the flexible wall of the container edge to edge along a diameter of its cross section.

[0017] According to another feature of the invention, the said dispensing head is mounted so that it can move in axial translation by sliding in the rigid neck of the container with elastically deformable walls between two different longitudinal positions inside the said neck, comprising the said security position in which communication between the container and the said expulsion duct via the said membrane is sealed off and the said availability position in which the said communication is allowed through the destruction of the frangible partition. In combination with this arrangement, the dispensing head is advantageously equipped, at its lower part, with a striker capable of fracturing or tearing the said partition the first time the container is used, entailing a movement of driving the said head into the said neck of the container, in longitudinal translation. According to some secondary features of the invention, the translational movement or driving of the dispensing head may advantageously be performed, in a way known per se, by means of a stopper which screws onto the rigid neck of the container.

[0018] Furthermore, the frangible partition is preferably constructed in such a way that it plays a part in controlling the conditions under which liquid is dispensed from the container, for example once pierced, freeing a passage cross section for the liquid which corresponds at least to one quarter of the active area of the hydrophilic/hydrophobic partition.

[0019] In order to be frangible, the partition advantageously has a number of lines of weakness, or precut lines, each of which is oriented radially and which are arranged in a star configuration, in a regular circular arrangement, at roughly equal angular spacings. Advantageously, in combination with this arrangement, but possibly separately, the striker for its part is preferably constructed with geometry that exhibits symmetry of revolution. Thus, in particular, it may be produced in the form of a number of triangular radial fins which are uniformly distributed about the longitudinal axis of the bottle. The number of precut lines of the partition is then advantageously different from the number of fins of the striker. This arrangement avoids the fins and the precut lines all being able to correspond with one another, which guarantees that the container will be opened by parting of the torn walls of the partition.

[0020] According to yet another feature of the invention, the bottle comprises a tamperproofing ring arranged between the interior body of the dispensing head and the upper part of the neck of the container when the dispensing head is in its secure position. The fact of arranging this tamperproofing ring between the dispensing head and the neck of the container makes it possible to obtain good positioning of the dispensing head in the neck in the security position while at the same time eliminating any risk of the frangible partition being perforated when the bottle is being assembled. The height of the ring covers the travel of the dispensing head when it is driven in for first use. Once this ring has been removed, the dispensing head is then displaced very precisely as far as the availability position in which the partition becomes open to the passage of the liquid.

[0021] In another embodiment, the tamperproofing ring is mounted by breakable strips secured to a stopper that is screwed in protection of the dispensing head. Such a ring can then stay fixed on the body of the bottle after breaking of the said strips when, for the first use, the user forces on the stopper in order to unscrew it.

[0022] This solution for the tamperproofing rings is particularly advantageous in combination with other features of a prefered embodiment of the device of the invention which consists in particular in means commanding the movement of the dispensing head in axial translation in the neck of the bottle by the rotation of the protecting stopper during its unscrewing, this translation inducing automatically the opening of the frangible partition to connect the internal volume of the bottle with the expulsion duct of the dispensing head through a buffer chamber set inside the pod forming the interior body of the dispensing head.

[0023] The invention will now be described more fully in the context of some preferred characteristics and of their advantages, making reference to FIGS. 1 to 6 in which:

[0024]FIG. 1 is a view in axial section of a bottle according to the invention, in which the dispensing head is in the security position;

[0025]FIG. 2 is a view in axial section depicting the container and the interior body of the dispensing head in the availability position;

[0026]FIG. 3 is a view in section on III-III of FIG. 1;

[0027]FIG. 4 is perspective view showing the lower part of the interior body of the dispensing head with the striker;

[0028]FIG. 5 is a part view in axial section depicting the dispensing head before it is assembled;

[0029] and FIG. 6 illustrates in axial section another prefered embodiment of the invention.

[0030] The figures depict an exemplary embodiment of a bottle according to the invention as intended, as a particularly advantageous example of the implementation of the invention, for packaging pharmaceutical liquids which are to be dispensed drop by drop, particularly aqueous ophthalmic solutions.

[0031] To contain the liquid, the bottle comprises a container 1 of cylindrical overall shape, with a longitudinal axis that is vertical in FIGS. 1 and 2, which is closed at its lower part by a bottom cap 2 and is extended at its upper part by a neck 3 in which is housed a dispensing head 4 which is mounted therein so that it can be moved in translation along the longitudinal axis. The assembly is supplemented by a stopper 5 which is screwed onto the neck 3 of the container.

[0032] In its entire cylindrical lateral part, the boundary wall 6 of the container 1 is flexible, in elastic deformation, so as to allow a temporary reduction in the interior volume of the container when pressure is applied to this wall, the release of manual compressive force having the tendency to return the interior volume of the container to its resting value by elastic return of its wall to the original cylindrical shape. By contrast, the cap 2 and the neck 3 are rigid.

[0033] The container 1 also comprises a radial transverse partition 7 perpendicular to its longitudinal axis 8 and which is arranged at the lower part of the neck 3. This intermediate partition is designed, as will be described later on, to tear automatically at the time of first use of the bottle as a dropper and thereby to create an opening in the container 1 upstream of the neck 3.

[0034] The dispensing head 4 is made in two parts joined together, namely an interior body or pod 9, which is of hollow annular shape and mounted so that it can move in axial travel in the neck 3, and an endpiece 11 which is fixed to the upper face of the pod 9 and is pierced with a duct 12 through which liquid is expelled out of the bottle. Sealing of the pod 9 against the interior wall of the neck 3 is provided by means of three exterior annular bulges 13 so that there always two of them actively sealing the connection between the pod and the neck of the container. At its upper part, the pod 9 comprises a shoulder 14 which is intended to come to bear against the upper face 15 of the neck 3 when the dispensing head 4 is in its availability position as depicted in FIG. 2. Formed on the upper face of the shoulder 14 is an annular recess 16 in which a lower collar 17 of the endpiece 11 can be housed (FIG. 5).

[0035] At its lower part, the pod 9 comprises a striker 18 (see FIGS. 4 and 5), the function of which is to open the partition 7 by definitively fracturing it at the time of first use. This striker is produced in the form of four radial fins 19 of triangular shape arranged at right angles to one another and which meet at the axis of the bottle and each meet at the lower part 21 of the pod 9. In the security position depicted in FIG. 1, an annular ring 22 is inserted between the upper face 15 of the neck 3 and the underside of the shoulder 14 of the pod 9. This ring performs a conventional tamperproofing function. It is secured to one of the two parts, in this instance the neck 3, in such a way that it is easy to remove it by tearing it or breaking it at the time of the first use of the bottle. In practice, it is moulded integrally with the container 1 and its neck 3.

[0036] The stopper 5 has a central pip 23 which fits quite easily into the flared end of the expulsion duct 12, an annular hoop 24 which guides it, centring it on the external face of a conical extension 25 of the base 26 of the endpiece 11, and another annular hoop 27, of larger diameter, which bears against the external face of the base 26. The stopper 5 has an internal screw thread 28 which collaborates with an external screw thread 29 of the neck 3.

[0037] According to the invention, and as can be seen in particular in FIG. 5, a membrane 31 is inserted in the path of the liquid expelled from the container 1, across the dropping head 4. It is arranged, held around its periphery between the pod 9 and the endpiece 11, more specifically between the upper face of the shoulder 14 and the underside of the base 26 of the endpiece 11.

[0038] The underside of the base 26 of the endpiece 11 has a central circular dish 32, the diameter of which exceeds the inside diameter of the pod 9 and into which the lower part of the expulsion duct 12 opens. In this way, the membrane 31 is fixed only at its periphery between the pod 9 and the endpiece 11, and the vast majority of its area is free and accessible to the passage of the liquid through the space corresponding to the interior of the pod 9.

[0039] According to the invention, this membrane 31 first of all has antimicrobial properties which make it possible to filter out bacteria and therefore make sure that the liquid contained in the container is kept sterile. This membrane is also both hydrophilic and hydrophobic which means that it both allows ophthalmic liquid to leave the container and allows any liquid expelled in excess when the drops have been dispensed to be sucked back in and air to be taken into the container to compensate for the volume of liquid dispensed in the form of drops.

[0040] The dispensing head is manufactured as follows. First of all, the endpiece 11 and the pod 9 are produced separately. The membrane 31 is fixed into the lower part of the endpiece 11, making a peripheral weld using ultrasound or high frequency welding. The membrane 31 is then protected by the collar 17 to prevent it from becoming damaged when the endpiece 11 is being handled. The assembly comprising the endpiece 11 and the membrane 31 is then fixed, the collar 17 of the endpiece 11 being housed in the recess 16 of the pod 9. This connection is sealed for example by ultrasound welding or heat sealing. This then yields the complete dispensing head 4 which will subsequently be inserted, from the top, into the neck 3 of the container 1.

[0041] As can be seen in FIG. 3, which shows the upper part of the wall 6, the neck 3 and the partition 7, the latter is weakened in its central part by six lines of weakness or precut lines 33, which are arranged radially and configured uniformly with an angular spacing of 60 degrees. In this way, when pressure is exerted on the centre of the partition 7, it tears along the lines 33, and thus forms, at its centre, a passageway for the liquid contained in the container 1.

[0042] To this effect, the pod 9 comprises, at its lower part, a striker which consists of the four triangular radial fins 19, the lower ends of which make a point 34 which will strike the centre of the partition 7 when the dispensing head 4 is moved downward. As can be seen in the figures, the striker 18 of the example described has four fins while the partition 7 has six tear lines. This difference in number, resulting in a different spacing in the configuration which exhibits symmetry of revolution, makes sure that the fins cannot ever all coincide with the tear lines and that, as a result, there is no risk of the fins becoming lodged in the space left by the tears and blocking the passageway for the liquid.

[0043] The bottle according to the invention is far easier to manufacture because the entirety of the container, namely its side wall 6, the neck 3 with also the tamperproofing ring 22 and the partition 7 are made as a single piece by an injection-moulding or extrusion operation using synthetic material. This is, for example, high-pressure or low-pressure polyethylene, but use may be made of any other polymer or composite material which exhibits a sufficient barrier to water vapour and sufficient flexibility (suited to an appropriate thickness) to perform the compression function that the cylindrical wall is to perform. This manufacturing by moulding as a single piece is made easier by the fact that the frangible transverse partition at the cylindrical wall is accessible from both sides when the bottom is absent.

[0044] The endpiece and the pod of the dispensing head are manufactured separately then the membrane is fixed into the dish 32 by ultrasound or high frequency welding. The assembly comprising the endpiece and the membrane is then placed on the pod, the collar 17 becoming housed in the recess 16 of the pod. The endpiece and the pod are then secured in a sealed manner, for example by welding, to form the dispensing head 4.

[0045] The dispensing head 4 is then engaged in the neck 3 until it comes into abutment with the tamperproofing ring in the security position in which the striker 18 is slightly above the partition 7, as can be seen in FIG. 1. The stopper 5 can then be screwed onto the neck 3 until it comes into abutment with the base 26 of the endpiece 11.

[0046] The assembly thus obtained and the closure cap 2 may be sent to a manufacturer of pharmaceutical products marketing the liquid that is to be dispensed, who will be able to place the bottles in the head down position in a filling machine of known type in which the container will be filled, without risk of contact with the membrane 31 because of the presence of the partition 7. When the bottle has been filled, the cap for closing the bottom 2 is fixed onto the bottom of the wall 6, in a sealed manner, for example by welding, and the bottle filled with liquid is then ready to be marketed.

[0047] At the time of first use, all that is required is to unscrew the stopper 5, remove the tamperproofing ring 22 and screw the stopper 5 back onto the neck 3. This screwing-on movement allows the dispensing head 4 to be driven in until it reaches the availability position which is depicted in FIG. 2 once the striker 18 has caused the partition 7 to tear along the precut lines 33. The cut triangular sections of the partition 7 are parted by the fins of the striker 18 so as to obtain a cross section for the passage of the liquid contained in the container 1 that corresponds at least to three quarters of the free area of the membrane 31. The central part 34 of the striker 18 makes it possible to avoid there being a direct jet of liquid onto the membrane 31.

[0048] At the time of each use, the wall 6 of the container 1 is pressed with the bottle held head down so as to cause one or more drops to be ejected through the duct 12. When the pressure on the wall 6 is released, the excess liquid which has been expelled from the membrane 31 is sucked back into the bottle by virtue of the pores with hydrophilic properties of the membrane 31. In addition, because this membrane is wetted with the liquid, its pores with hydrophobic properties allow air to pass and this air replaces the liquid which has been expelled in the form of drops. Because the membrane 31 has antimicrobial properties, this ingress of liquid and of air into the container 1 occurs in a sterile manner which means that the liquid contained in this container can be used over a long period of time without becoming contaminated.

[0049] The membrane may be made in the known way of a polymer material (with, for example, as its base, resins of polyamide, polyvinyl fluoride, polyether sulphone, etc) to which its composition gives a hydrophilic nature and which is rendered hydrophobic by modification of its structure over part of its free area only. The modification in question is performed in the conventional way by grafting in the presence of an initiator of radical reactions. The treatment is advantageously performed in order to render the membrane hydrophobic across a diametral band covering from 20 to 50% of its area that can be wetted by the liquid that is to be expelled. By way of example, use was thus made of a membrane based on polyamide resins with a pore diameter of 0.2 microns. In another example, use was made, for the same passage flow rate of the aqueous solution considered, of a membrane based on polyether sulphone resins with a pore diameter reduced to 0.1 microns, which allows better antimicrobial filtration by holding back the most mobile and deformable bacteria.

[0050] We will now refer to FIG. 6 which illustrates another embodiment of the device according to the invention which has the advantage with regard to the former to facilitate the use of the bottle by the consumer. Indeed, the components at the head of the bottle are constituted in such a way that, when at the time of first use, the consumer unscrews the cap or stopper 5, the first induces the breaking of the strips 41 which hold the tamperproofing ring 42, then he induces the perforation of the intermediate partition 43 by the striker 44. When he goes on unscrewing the stopper 5, he frees this one completely from the dispensing endpiece 11.

[0051] It can be seen on the figure a ramp 45 which is arranged to this effect inside the dispensing head and which makes the pod which constitues its interior body 46 cooperate with internal components of the neck 47 of the bottle. This ramp has an inverse thread and a much steeper slope with respect to the screw thread of the stopper 5. It operates when the pod is driven in rotation by the stopper during the unscrewing of the latter.

[0052] In the position illustrated on the figure, the pod 46 is still in a high position. It forms around the striker 44 a hoop 48 which presents protusions 51 engaging a bulge 52 protuding from the body of the bottle, on the internal wall of a small cup 49 that it forms around the partition 43.

[0053] In its part cooperating on one hand with the thread of the stopper 5 on the external side, on the other hand with the interior pod 46 through the ramp 45 on the internal side, the body of the flask forms two annular hoops between which is placed an external skirt 54 of the pod, meanwhile an internal skirt of that one ending with the hoop 48 is placed inside the internal hoop 55. The internal hoop is thus inserted between the two co-axial skirts of the pod. It is at this place that is provided the ramp 45. This ramp runs on a half-turn of the bottle, which allows the cooperating part of the pod to come in mesh with it whatever its original rotation position is.

[0054]FIG. 6 shows other details of construction, in particular concerning a cam formed on the skirt 54 in abutment cooperation with a shoulder of the stopper 5 and the fact that the rotation of the pod with respect to the neck of the botte is restricted to a small sector by the presence of grooves coming in overthickness on the skirt 54.

[0055] It can also be seen on the figure the buffer chamber 56 that, as in the exemplary embodiment illustrated by FIGS. 1 and 2, is arranged inside the pod between the entry zone formed by sectors widely open around the striker 44 and the hydrophilic/hydrophobic membrane at the entrance of the dispensing duct of the endpiece. The striker 44 is constituted a little differently from the striker 18 of FIG. 1. It forms a peak of triangular section which is borne in excentric position by the internal skirt of the pod 46.

[0056]FIG. 6 is interesting in that it illustrates the use of the same dispensing head and of the same base body of the bottle to obtain a global bottle of smaller capacity by virtue of a bulging bottom 57. In this case as in the other, this bottom is fixed on the bottle for having been welded to it during its filling.

[0057] It can also be pointed that in the case of FIG. 6, unlike that of FIG. 1, the tamperproofing ring keeps in place on the fixed ring of the body of the bottle on which it is mounted, but it is freed from the breakable strips that maintained it fixed to the terminal shoulder of the stopper 5.

[0058] It is apparent from the foregoing that the invention is not restricted to the embodiments which have been specifically described during the examples hereinabove and that it extends, on the contrary, to any alternative form using equivalent means. In particular, it is possible, by way of a striker, to use a central cannula fixed to the lower part of the pod 9.

[0059] Moreover, the bottom cap may be fixed by any means providing sufficient sealing; for example it is possible to envisage snap-fastening. It is also possible to dispense with this cap, closing the bottom by pinching together the cylindrical wall of the container.

[0060] The invention as described and illustrated hereinabove is also not restricted in its applications. In particular, it is obvious that a device equipped with a membrane which, through its hydrophilic nature, is intended to allow aqueous liquid to pass through it may just as easily be used for the drop-by-drop dispensing of solutions in a polar solvent rather than in water.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification222/212, 222/420
International ClassificationB65D47/18, B65D83/00, B65D51/22, A61J1/14, B01J4/02, A61F9/00, A61J1/05
Cooperative ClassificationA61J1/1468, A61J1/1456, A61J1/145, A61J1/1418, A61F9/0008, B65D2251/0056, B65D2251/0015, B65D2251/0096, B65D47/18, B65D51/227
European ClassificationB65D47/18, B65D51/22A3F, A61F9/00B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 3, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: LABORATORES THEA, FRANCE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FAURIE, MICHEL;REEL/FRAME:014688/0631
Effective date: 20030618