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Publication numberUS20060086639 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/067,104
Publication dateApr 27, 2006
Filing dateFeb 25, 2005
Priority dateOct 21, 2004
Also published asCA2759769A1, US20060086638
Publication number067104, 11067104, US 2006/0086639 A1, US 2006/086639 A1, US 20060086639 A1, US 20060086639A1, US 2006086639 A1, US 2006086639A1, US-A1-20060086639, US-A1-2006086639, US2006/0086639A1, US2006/086639A1, US20060086639 A1, US20060086639A1, US2006086639 A1, US2006086639A1
InventorsRobert Priebe, Terrance Noble
Original AssigneePriebe Robert N, Noble Terrance O
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pill fill tray and packaging system
US 20060086639 A1
Abstract
A pill fill tray that includes a primary surface having a plurality of tray apertures formed therein and at least one indexing member. The primary surface is configured to support a blister pack having a plurality of blister apertures formed therein that provides access to blister compartments associated with each blister aperture. A pill card is positioned over the blister pack. The pill card includes a plurality of pill apertures. The indexing member of the tray is configured to engage an indexing aperture of the blister pack and an indexing member of the pill card to align the tray apertures, blister apertures and card apertures. The blister pack and pill card are secured together with a sealing member positioned therebetween to seal a pill in the blister compartment.
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Claims(20)
1. 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;
a blister pack having a plurality of blister apertures, a separate blister container aligned with each of the plurality of blister apertures, and at least one indexing aperture formed therein; and
a pill card having a plurality of pill apertures formed through a primary surface of the pill card, and at least one indexing aperture formed therein;
wherein the primary surface of the pill fill tray is configured to support the blister pack, the blister pack being configured to support the pill card, and the at least one indexing member is configured to engage the at least one indexing aperture of each of the blister pack and the pill card to provide alignment of the tray apertures, the blister apertures, and the pill apertures.
2. The pill packaging system of claim 1, wherein the pill fill tray includes at least two indexing members and the blister pack and pill card each include at least as many indexing apertures as the number of tray indexing members.
3. The pill packaging system of claim 1, wherein the at least one indexing member is positioned at a first end of the pill fill tray, the at least one blister indexing aperture is formed along an edge at an end of the blister pack, and the at least one indexing aperture is formed along an edge at an end of the blister pack.
4. The pill packaging system of claim 3, wherein the pill card includes a sealing layer formed on the primary surface thereof, the sealing layer covering at least one of the pill apertures, and puncturing the sealing layer over the at least one pill aperture provides access to the blister container.
5. The pill packaging system of claim 4, wherein the pill card includes an adhesive and a protective liner covering the adhesive, the protective liner being removable to expose the adhesive before coupling the pill card to the blister pack.
6. A method of using a pill packaging system, the pill packaging system including a pill fill tray having a plurality of tray apertures formed in a primary surface and at least one indexing member exposed at the primary surface, a pill card having at least one indexing aperture and at least one pill aperture formed therein, a sealing member, and a blister pack having a plurality of blister apertures and a separate blister container aligned with each of the plurality of blister apertures, and at least one indexing aperture formed in the blister pack, the method comprising the steps of:
positioning the blister pack on the tray primary surface with the at least one tray indexing member engaging the blister pack at the blister indexing aperture;
filling at least some of the blister containers with pills;
positioning the pill card on the blister pack with the at least one card indexing aperture engaging the tray indexing member;
positioning the sealing member between the pill aperture and the blister aperture; and
securing the pill card to the blister pack to seal the pills between the pill card and the blister pack.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein engaging the at least one tray indexing member with the at least one blister indexing aperture and the at least one card indexing aperture aligns the tray apertures with the blister apertures and aligns the pill apertures with the blister pack apertures.
8. The method of claim 6, wherein the pill card further comprises an adhesive applied to a primary surface of the pill card and a liner covering the adhesive, the method further including removing the liner before the step of securing the pill card to the blister pack.
9. The method of claim 6, further comprising applying a label to the card, the label identifying at least one of the pills.
10. The method of claim 6, wherein the pill card includes graphics indicating dates or times when the pill associated with each blister container must be taken by a user.
11. The method of claim 6, wherein positioning the blister pack on the tray primary surface includes inserting the blister containers in the tray apertures.
12. The method of claim 6, wherein the tray includes three indexing members and the pill card and blister pack each include at least three indexing apertures.
13. The method of claim 6, wherein the system further comprises an adhesive applied to the sealing member on a side of the sealing member facing the blister pack, and a removable liner covering the adhesive, the method further including removing the liner before the step of securing the pill card to the blister pack.
14. A pill packaging card, comprising:
first and second opposed primary surfaces;
first and second ends;
first and second sides;
a pill aperture formed between the first and second opposed primary surfaces, the aperture being sized for a pill to pass there through; and
at least one indexing aperture formed in at least one of the first end, the second end, the first side, and the second side.
15. The pill packaging card of claim 14, wherein the card comprises a material selected from a group comprising cardboard and a polymer based material.
16. The pill packaging card of claim 14, further comprising a sealing member coupled to the first primary surface and arranged to cover the pill aperture.
17. The pill packaging card of claim 16, further comprising graphics applied to the sealing member or the first or second primary surface.
18. The pill packaging card of claim 14, wherein at least two indexing apertures are formed in only the first end of the pill packaging card.
19. The pill packaging card of claim 14, wherein the pill packaging card is configured for attachment to a bubble sheet, the bubble sheet having a plurality of bubble compartments, and the pill aperture aligns with at least one of the bubble compartments.
20. The pill packaging card of claim 14, further comprising an adhesive material applied to the first primary surface and a removable protective liner coupled to the adhesive material.
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, a pill container or blister pack, and a pill card when assembling the blister pack and pill card. One aspect of the invention relates to a pill packaging card that includes first and second opposed primary surfaces, first and second ends, first and second sides, graphics applied to the first primary surface, a pill aperture formed between the first and second opposed primary surfaces, and at least one indexing aperture. The pill aperture is sized for a pill to pass there through. The indexing aperture is formed in at least one of the first end, the second end, the first side, and the second side.

Another aspect of the invention relates to a pill packaging system that includes a pill fill tray, a blister pack, and a pill card. The pill fill tray includes a plurality of tray apertures defined in a primary surface thereof and having at least one indexing member protruding from the primary surface. The blister pack includes a plurality of blister apertures, a separate blister container aligned with each of the plurality of blister apertures, and at least one indexing aperture formed therein. The pill card includes a plurality of pill apertures formed through a primary surface of the pill card, and at least one indexing aperture formed therein. The primary surface of the pill fill tray is configured to support the blister pack, the blister pack is configured to support the pill card, and the at least one indexing member is configured to engage the at least one indexing aperture of each of the blister pack and the pill card to provide alignment of the tray apertures, the blister apertures, and the pill apertures.

A further aspect of the invention relates to a method of using a pill packaging system. The pill packaging system includes a pill fill tray having a plurality of tray apertures formed in a primary surface thereof and at least one indexing member exposed at the primary surface, a pill card having at least one indexing aperture and at least one pill aperture formed therein, a sealing member, and a blister pack having a plurality of blister apertures and a separate blister container aligned with each of the plurality of blister apertures and at least one indexing aperture formed in the blister pack. The method includes positioning the blister pack on the tray primary surface with the at least one tray indexing member engaging the blister pack at the blister indexing aperture, filling at least some of the blister containers with pills, and positioning the pill card on the blister pack with the at least one card indexing aperture engaging the tray indexing member. The method also includes positioning the sealing member between the pill aperture and the blister aperture and securing the pill card to the blister pack to seal the pills between the pill card and the blister pack.

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 blister pack) 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 blister pack and pill card. The blister pack and pill card include a notch or indexing aperture that aligns with and engages the indexing member thereby properly aligning the blister pack and pill card relative to the pill fill tray.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-4, an example pill fill tray 10 is shown and described. Tray 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 blister pack having notches in an end of the blister pack (see for example, the blister pack 60 shown in FIGS. 13 and 14 and described in further detail below) engage the indexing members 20, 22, 24 when assembling the blister pack with the pill fill tray 10. The height 20 may vary depending on such considerations as, for example, the thickness of the blister pack and the size or shape of the pill compartments (e.g., feature 72 in FIG. 13) of the blister pack. The width and length 42, 44 may also vary depending on considerations such as features of the blister pack. 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.

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 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 blister pack) 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.

Referring now to FIGS. 13 and 14, an example blister pack 60 is shown with the pill fill tray 10, a pill card 80, and a sealing member 90. The blister pack 60 includes first and second ends 62, 64, first and second sides 66, 68, a plurality of blister apertures 70, a plurality of blister 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.

The pill card 80 includes first and second ends 82, 83, first and second sides 85, 87, a plurality of apertures 81, and first, second and third notches 84, 86, 88 formed along the second end 83. The layout of the apertures 81 substantially matches the layout of the apertures 38 of pill fill tray 10 and blister apertures 70. The dimensions of notches 84, 86, 88 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 and the notches 74, 76, 78.

The sealing member 90 includes first and second ends 92, 93, first and second sides 95, 97, and first, second and third notches 94, 96, 98 formed along the second end 93. The sealing member 90 is sized and positioned to cover the apertures 70, 81 thereby sealing closed the blister compartments 72 when the blister pack 60, pill card 80, and sealing member 90 are coupled together with the blister apertures 70 and pill apertures 81 aligned.

In some embodiments, the sealing member 90 may be secured to the pill card 80 in a preliminary step before securing the pill card 80 to the blister pack 60 using the pill tray 10. In one embodiment (not shown), the sealing member is embedded between two layers of the pill card. In another example embodiment, the sealing member is secured to the pill card with an adhesive. In some embodiments, the sealing member includes a plurality of pieces configured to cover primarily the card apertures and does not extend over an entire primary surface of the pill card as is shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 13 and 14.

An adhesive layer may be applied to the sealing member 90 on a surface of the sealing member facing the bubble pack 60. This adhesive layer (not shown) may be covered with a removable liner (see FIG. 18) that protects the adhesive layer until the time that the sealing member 90 and pill card 80 are coupled to the blister pack 60. This adhesive layer and removable liner may be coupled to the sealing member 90 and pill card 80 in a preliminary step before assembly of the pill card 80 with the blister pack 60 according to the method steps discussed below with reference to FIGS. 16-21.

The blister pack 60, pill card 80, and sealing member 90 may comprise different materials that are advantageous for each member. For example, the blister pack may comprise a transparent or translucent material such as a polymer based material that provides viewing of the contents of the blister compartment. In some embodiments, the blister pack comprises a material that can be torn or punctured with relative easy to provide access to the blister compartment contents without puncturing or tearing the pill card and/or sealing member. In such an embodiment, the sealing member may not be required. In other embodiments, the blister pack may be a relatively stiff material that provides structure and support for the blister compartment contents, the pill card and the sealing member. In other embodiments, the pill card may comprise a relatively stiff material that provides the support necessary of the blister compartment contents.

The pill card may comprise any desired material that is transparent/translucent like the blister pack, or may be an opaque material such as a colored polymer based material or a paper based material such as cardboard. The sealing member comprises a material that maintains an airtight seal while being configured for puncturing with relative ease to gain access to the contents of the blister compartments. One example material for the sealing member is a metal foil such as aluminum foil.

In some embodiments, the blister pack, pill card and sealing member may include descriptive text and graphics related to the content of the blister compartments. The graphics may also relate to, for example in the case of pill being held in the blister compartments, 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, 81 or any other position on any of the blister pack, sealing member, and pill card.

Referring now to FIG. 15, an example notch 474 is shown in greater detail. Notch 74 is merely exemplary of any of the notches 74, 76, 78, 84, 86, 88, 94, 96, 98 discussed above, or other notches provided for features that are used with pill fill trays according to principles of the present invention. Notch 474 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 on the pill fill tray. 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 sheet, pill card and sealing member, the method of forming the notch (e.g., stamping versus molding), and other relevant considerations.

In one embodiment, the blister pack, pill card, and sealing member 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.

The embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-21 include indexing features provided in sets of three. Other embodiments may include only a single indexing member on the tray 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 of the tray and configured so as to extend vertically above the top primary surface of the tray for engagement with indexing features of the blister pack and pill card resting on top of the top primary surface of the pill fill tray. In yet further embodiments, the blister pack and pill 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 of the tray. 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 tray.

Referring now to FIGS. 16-21, an example method of assembling a pill package using an example pill fill tray 10 is described. In a first step (see FIG. 16), a blister pack 60 is mounted to the pill tray 10 so that the pill compartments 72 fit within the apertures 38 on the tray 10. The indexing members 20, 22, 24 of the tray 10 (see FIG. 18) engage the indexing apertures 72, 74, 76 of the blister pack 60 (see FIG. 18) to properly align the blister pack 60 on the tray 10.

In a second step (see FIG. 17), at least some of the blister compartments 72 of the blister pack 60 are filled with pills 100. Filling the compartments 72 with pills may be at least partially completed prior to the blister pack 60 being mounted to the pill tray 10 as shown in FIGS. 16 and 17.

In a third step (see FIG. 18), a liner 102 is removed from the sealing member 90 to expose an adhesive positioned on the sealing member 90. The sealing member 90 may be coupled to the pill card 80 in a separate or preliminary step. With the liner 102 removed, the combination pill card 80 and sealing member 90 is prepared for coupling to the blister pack 60. A plurality of graphics 104 are applied to the sealing member 90 to provide information related to the blister compartments 72 and the contents of those compartments.

In a fourth step (see FIG. 19), the combination pill card 80 and sealing member 90 is aligned with respect to the blister pack 60 by engaging the indexing members 20, 22, 24 of the tray 10 with the indexing apertures 84, 86, 88, 94, 96, 98. In a fifth step (see FIG. 20), the combination pill card 80 and sealing member 90 secured to the blister pack 60 by engaging the exposed adhesive against the blister pack 60 and pressing the members 60, 80, 90 together to create a pill package.

In a sixth step (see FIG. 21), a plurality of labels 106 are applied to the sealing member 90. The labels 106 may provide further information about the blister compartment contents, such as the type of pill, a pill regime, a patient's identification information, etc. The labels 106 may be applied to the pill card 80 or to the blister pack 60. The labels 106 or other labels may be added between any of the steps described with reference to FIGS. 16-21.

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 blister pack 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.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7818950 *May 30, 2008Oct 26, 2010Walgreen Co.Method of loading a multi-dose blister card using a transfer fixture
US8479921Dec 9, 2009Jul 9, 2013Amcor Flexibles, Inc.Child resistant blister package
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/528
International ClassificationB65D85/42
Cooperative ClassificationA61J1/035, B65B5/068, B65B5/103
European ClassificationB65B5/10B1, B65B5/06T
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 3, 2014ASAssignment
Effective date: 20140228
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:APOTHECARY PRODUCTS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:032378/0572
Owner name: APOTHECARY PRODUCTS, LLC, MINNESOTA
Mar 16, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: APOTHECARY PRODUCTS, INC., MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:PRIEBE, ROBERT N.;NOBLE, TERRANCE O.;REEL/FRAME:016362/0390
Effective date: 20050218