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Publication numberUS20060086638 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/970,203
Publication dateApr 27, 2006
Filing dateOct 21, 2004
Priority dateOct 21, 2004
Also published asCA2759769A1, US20060086639
Publication number10970203, 970203, US 2006/0086638 A1, US 2006/086638 A1, US 20060086638 A1, US 20060086638A1, US 2006086638 A1, US 2006086638A1, US-A1-20060086638, US-A1-2006086638, US2006/0086638A1, US2006/086638A1, US20060086638 A1, US20060086638A1, US2006086638 A1, US2006086638A1
InventorsRobert Priebe, Terrance Noble
Original AssigneeApothecary Products, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pill fill tray and packaging system
US 20060086638 A1
Abstract
A pill fill tray that includes a primary surface having a plurality of apertures formed therein and at least one indexing member. The primary surface is configured to support a card having a plurality of apertures formed therein that provide access to a pill compartment of the card. The indexing member is coupled to the primary surface at one end of the pill fill tray and extends in a direction normal to the primary surface. The indexing member is configured to engage a notch feature formed in the card. When the notch feature engages the indexing member, the plurality of apertures in the pill fill tray align with the plurality of card apertures.
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Claims(18)
1. A pill fill tray, comprising:
a primary surface having a plurality of apertures formed therein, the primary surface being configured to support a card having a plurality of apertures formed therein that provide access to a pill compartment of the card; and
at least one indexing member coupled to the primary surface at one end of the pill fill tray, the at least one indexing member extending in a direction generally normal to the primary surface and being configured to engage a notch feature formed in the card;
wherein when the notch feature engages the indexing member, the plurality of aperture in the pill fill tray align with the plurality of card apertures.
2. The pill fill tray of claim 1, comprising three indexing members.
3. The pill fill tray of claim 1, further comprising first and second ends and first and second sides, wherein the at least one indexing member is positioned along the first or second end.
4. The pill fill tray of claim 1, further comprising a first alignment wall positioned along a first end of the pill fill tray, wherein the at least one indexing member is positioned adjacent to the alignment wall.
5. The pill fill tray of claim 4, further comprising a second alignment wall positioned along a first side of the pill fill tray.
6. The pill fill tray of claim 5, wherein at least one indexing member is positioned along the first alignment wall and at least one indexing member is positioned along the second alignment wall.
7. The pill fill tray of claim 1, wherein the primary surface includes at least thirty apertures.
8. A pill packaging system, comprising:
a pill fill tray having a plurality of tray apertures defined in a primary surface thereof and having at least one indexing member protruding from the primary surface; and
a pill card having a plurality of card apertures and an indexing notch formed therein;
wherein the primary surface of the pill fill tray is configured to support the pill card and the indexing member is configured to engage the indexing notch to align the plurality of tray apertures with the plurality of card apertures.
9. The pill packaging system of claim 8, wherein the pill fill tray includes at least three indexing members.
10. The pill packaging system of claim 8, wherein the at least one indexing member is positioned at a first end of the pill fill tray.
11. The pill packaging system of claim 8, wherein the pill fill tray includes a first alignment member positioned along a first end of the pill fill tray and a second alignment member positioned along a first side of the pill fill tray.
12. The pill packaging system of claim 11, wherein at least one indexing member is positioned adjacent to the first alignment member and at least one indexing member is positioned adjacent to the second alignment member.
13. A method of using a pill packaging system, the pill packaging system including a pill fill tray having a plurality of tray apertures formed therein and having an indexing member extending therefrom, and a pill card having a plurality of card apertures and an indexing notch formed therein, the method comprising the steps of:
aligning the indexing notch with the indexing member thereby aligning the tray apertures with the card apertures;
mounting the pill card to the pill fill tray; and
positioning pills within the card and tray apertures after the aligning step and the mounting step.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the pill fill tray further includes first and second alignment members positioned along a first end and a first side of the pill fill tray, respectively, the method further including aligning a first end of the pill card along the first alignment member and positioning a first side of the pill card along the second alignment member.
15. A method of manufacturing a pill fill tray, comprising the steps of:
forming a base portion having a primary surface;
forming a plurality of apertures in the base, the apertures being sized to receive a pill; and
forming at least one indexing member on the primary surface at one end of the base portion, the at least one indexing member being configured to orient a pill card on the primary surface relative to the plurality of apertures.
16. The method of claim 15, further comprising forming an alignment member along one end of the base portion, wherein the at least one indexing member is positioned adjacent to the alignment member.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the at least one indexing member is positioned between the alignment member and the plurality of apertures.
18. The method of claim 15, wherein the pill fill tray features are formed using a molding process.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to packaging products and systems, and more specifically relates to pill fill trays and pill packaging systems and methods.

2. Related Art

Pill packaging is an important aspect of patient care that is typically handled by a pharmacist or pharmaceutical company. Individualized pill packaging for a particular patient can be very helpful to ensure proper administration of the pills to the patient. Pills can be packaged in containers or other storage devices that have individual compartments for storage of pills that are to be taken on a particular day or at a particular time of the day. The compartments are typically labeled to promote proper administration of the pills.

Packaging systems and methods for such individualized pill packaging are known in the art and may include a pill filling apparatus that is configured to fill a pill container with an individualized pill regime. Proper alignment and positioning of the pill container relative to the pill filling apparatus to ensure correct filling of the pill container is an important consideration.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally directed to pill fill trays and pill packaging systems and methods that provide proper alignment of a pill tray and a pill container or pill card when filling the pill container/card. One aspect of the invention relates to a pill fill tray that includes a primary surface having a plurality of apertures formed therein, and at least one indexing member. The primary surface is configured to support a card having a plurality of apertures formed therein that provide access to a pill compartment. The indexing member is coupled to the primary surface at one end of the pill fill tray and extends in a direction normal to the primary surface. The indexing member is configured to engage a notch feature formed in the card, wherein when the notch feature engages the indexing member the plurality of aperture in the pill fill tray align with the plurality of card apertures.

Another aspect of the invention relates to a pill packaging system that includes a pill fill tray having a plurality of tray apertures defined in a primary surface thereof and having at least one indexing member protruding from the primary surface. The system also includes a pill card having a plurality of card apertures and an indexing notch formed therein. The primary surface of the pill fill tray is configured to support the pill card and the indexing member is configured to engage the indexing notch thereby aligning the plurality of tray apertures with the plurality of card apertures.

A further aspect of the invention relates to a method of using a pill packaging system that includes a pill fill tray having a plurality of tray apertures formed therein and having an indexing member extending therefrom. The packaging system also includes a pill card having a plurality of card apertures and an indexing notch formed therein. The method includes aligning the indexing notch with the indexing member thereby aligning the tray apertures with the card apertures, and positioning pills within the card and tray apertures after the aligning step.

A still further aspect of the invention relates to a method of manufacturing a pill fill tray. The method may include forming a base portion having a primary surface and forming a plurality of apertures in the base. The apertures are sized to receive a pill. The method may also include forming at least one indexing member on the primary surface at one end of the base portion. The indexing member is configured to orient a pill card on the primary surface relative to the plurality of apertures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the invention in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an example pill fill tray according to principles of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a further example pill fill tray according to principles of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a front view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a front view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 front view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a yet further example pill fill tray according to principles of the invention;

FIG. 10 is a front view of a still further example pill fill tray according to principles of the invention;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a top view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 10;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the pill fill tray shown in FIG. 1 with a bubble card mounted to the pill fill tray; and

FIG. 14 is a partial top view of the bubble card shown in FIG. 13.

While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternate forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example and the drawings, and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is generally directed to pill fill trays and pill packaging systems and methods that provide proper alignment of a pill tray and a pill container (or pill card) when filling the pill container. One example embodiment is directed to a pill fill tray that includes an indexing member that extends from a surface of the pill fill tray that supports a pill card. The pill card includes a notch that aligns with and engages the indexing member thereby properly aligning the pill card relative to the pill fill tray.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-4, an example pill fill tray 10 is shown and described. Assembly 10 includes a base portion 12, first and second alignment walls 14, 16, a handle recess 18, and first, second and third indexing members 20, 22, 24. The base portion 12 includes first and second ends 26, 28, first and second sides 30, 32, top and bottom primary surfaces 34, 36, and a plurality of pill apertures 38 extending through the top primary surface 34. The first alignment wall 14 extends along the second side 32, and the second alignment wall 16 extends across the second end 28. The handle recess 18 is formed at the first end 26 and extends into the top primary surface 34.

The indexing members 20, 22, 24 are positioned along the second alignment wall 16. The members 20, 22, 24 include a height 40, a width 42, and a length 44 (see FIGS. 2 and 3). The height 40 is preferably great enough to provide engagement with a pill card having notches in an end of the pill card (see for example, the bubble card 60 shown in FIG. 13 and described in further detail below) engage the indexing members 20, 22, 24 when assembling the pill card with the pill fill tray 10. The height 20 may vary depending on such considerations as, for example, the thickness of the pill cards and the size or shape of the pill compartments (e.g., feature 72 in FIG. 13) of the pill card. The width and length 42, 44 may also vary depending on considerations such as features of the pill card. Also, there may be minimum and maximum dimensions of the indexing members 20, 22, 24 depending on the particular forming technique used for forming the assembly 10 such as, for example, molding, stamping, or other forming techniques.

Referring now to FIG. 13, an example pill card 60 is shown assembled with the pill filling assembly 10. The pill card 60 includes first and second ends 62, 64, first and second sides 66, 68, a plurality of apertures 70 (thirty-two total apertures), a plurality of pill housings or compartments 72, and first, second and third notches 74, 76, 78 formed along the second end 64. The layout of the apertures 70 substantially matches the layout of the apertures 38 of pill fill tray 10. The dimensions of notches 74, 76, 78 are also substantially equivalent to the width and length of the first, second, and third indexing members 20, 22, 24 of the fill tray 10. In some embodiments, the pill card 60 many include descriptive text related to the products held by the pill card 60 and other descriptive text related to, for example, the days of the week or time of the day in which the pills should be taken by a patient. The text may be oriented around the rows and columns of apertures 70. In some embodiments, it may be preferred to position the text between the first end 62 and the apertures 70.

The thirty-two aperture arrangement of pill apertures 38 may be well suited for a one-month pill schedule when using 1 pill aperture per day. The four columns of eight apertures shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 may also be well suited for an 8-day period of time in which a set of 4 pill apertures in each column corresponds to morning, midday, afternoon, and bedtime regime of pills.

Referring now to FIG. 14, an example notch 74 is shown in greater detail. Notch 74 includes an incoming radius R1, a lower end radius, R2, and a sidewall angle β. The specifications of the radiuses R1, R2, and sidewall angle β may provide certain advantages for both manufacturing of the notch as well as improving engagement between the notch 74 and a corresponding indexing member 20 on the pill tray 10. In one example, the angle β may be between about 0 and 30 degrees. The radius values R1, R2, may vary depending on, for example, the size of the corresponding indexing member to which it engages, material properties of the bubble card, the method of forming the notch (e.g., stamping versus molding), and other relevant considerations.

In one embodiment, the pill card 60 may include more notches than the number of indexing members on a corresponding pill fill tray. In still further embodiments, the bubble card may include several different notch sizes. Different notch sizes may be useful if corresponding indexing members also have varying sizes, or may be useful to improve the ease of alignment of the notches with the indexing members.

Referring now to FIGS. 5-8, another example pill fill tray 100 is shown. Tray 100 includes a base portion 112, first and second alignment walls 114, 116, a handle recess 118, and first, second, and third indexing members 120, 122, 124. The base portion 112 includes first and second ends 126, 128, first and second sides 130, 132, top and bottom primary surfaces 134, 136, and a plurality of pill apertures 138. Base portion 12 includes sixty-two pill apertures 138, which number of apertures may be well suited for any continuous 2-month period of time when using one of the pill apertures 138 per day.

Referring now to FIG. 9, another example pill fill tray 200 is shown and described. Pill fill tray 200 includes a base portion 212, first and second alignment walls 214, 216, a handle recess 218, and first, second and third indexing members 220, 222, 224. Base portion 212 includes first and second ends 226, 228, first and second sides 230, 232, top and bottom primary surfaces 234, 236, and a plurality of pill apertures 238. The arrangement of ninety pill apertures 238 may be well suited for a 3-month pill regime wherein each of the pill apertures corresponds to a single day.

Referring now to FIGS. 10-12, another example pill fill tray 300 is shown and described. Pill fill tray 300 includes a base portion 312, first and second alignment walls 314, 316, a handle recess 318, first, second and third indexing members 320, 322, 324 positioned along the second alignment wall 316, and fourth, fifth and sixth indexing members 350, 352, 354 positioned along the first alignment wall 314.

The base portion includes first and second ends 326, 328, first and second sides 330, 332, top and bottom primary surfaces 334, 336, and a plurality of pill apertures 338. The fourth, fifth and sixth indexing members 350, 352, 354 may be used in addition to or in place of the indexing members 320, 322, 324. Using two sets of indexing members may provide additional assurance of aligning the corresponding pill container (or pill card) along the top surface 334. Using two sets of indexing members may require that the card notches be fit down vertically over the top of the indexing members rather than sliding in horizontally in a plane of the surface 334 as may be possible with fill trays 10, 100, 200 described above.

The embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-13 include indexing members provided in sets of three. Other embodiments may include only a single indexing member along one of the alignment walls. In still other embodiments, the indexing member may be positioned along one of the first end or the first side end and configured so as to extend vertically above the top primary surface for engagement with a card resting on top of the top primary surface of the pill fill tray. In yet further embodiments, the card may include flanges or other bent structure that wrap around from a top surface to a side surface of the pill fill tray along at least one of the sides or ends of the pill fill tray. These flanges or bent edges may include notches formed therein that engage an indexing member positioned along the first end or first side. This type of configuration may eliminate the need to position the indexing member in a position protruding vertically above the top primary surface of the fill tray.

Various other configurations and embodiments may fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Such alternative embodiments may include some type of protrusion or recess that engages a respective notch or protrusion of the pill container or pill card that is to be filled to align features of the container/card with features of the fill tray. Alignment of the pill compartment of the container/card with apertures of the pill fill tray may be particularly important. In one embodiment in which the pill fill tray includes more apertures than the number of pill compartments of the container/card, proper alignment using the indexing features described herein may be especially useful.

The present invention should not be considered limited to the particular examples or materials described above, but rather should be understood to cover all aspects of the invention as fairly set out in the attached claims. Various modifications, equivalent processes, as well as numerous structures to which the present invention may be applicable will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art to which the present invention is directed upon review of the instant specification.

Classifications
U.S. Classification206/528
International ClassificationB65D85/42
Cooperative ClassificationA61J1/035, B65B5/068, B65B5/103
European ClassificationB65B5/06T, B65B5/10B1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 3, 2014ASAssignment
Owner name: APOTHECARY PRODUCTS, LLC, MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:APOTHECARY PRODUCTS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:032378/0572
Effective date: 20140228
Oct 21, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: APOTHECARY PRODUCTS, INC., MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:PRIEBE, ROBERT N.;NOBLE, TERRANCE O.;REEL/FRAME:015922/0336
Effective date: 20041018