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Publication numberUS20060124658 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/262,675
Publication dateJun 15, 2006
Filing dateOct 31, 2005
Priority dateDec 10, 2004
Publication number11262675, 262675, US 2006/0124658 A1, US 2006/124658 A1, US 20060124658 A1, US 20060124658A1, US 2006124658 A1, US 2006124658A1, US-A1-20060124658, US-A1-2006124658, US2006/0124658A1, US2006/124658A1, US20060124658 A1, US20060124658A1, US2006124658 A1, US2006124658A1
InventorsMatthew Coe, Richard Costa, Hung Mach, Fred Pether
Original AssigneeCoe Matthew T, Richard Costa, Hung Mach, Fred Pether
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pill dispenser with patient compliant indicating means
US 20060124658 A1
Abstract
A pill dispenser includes a housing having a pill dispensing opening, and a display area, a holder portion of the housing having a plurality of pill holding slots arranged in a substantially circular layout, an actuator for rotatably moving the plurality of pill holding slots to provide individual access through the pill dispensing opening in a sequential manner; and a time interval indicator assembly operatively engaged to the holder portion for communicating to the user a time interval through the display area corresponding to one of the plurality of pill holding slots. The indicator assembly includes a rotatable dial mounted to the cover and operatively engaged to the actuator, the rotatable dial including indicia printed thereon for permitting a sequential display through the display area.
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Claims(4)
1. A pill dispenser comprising:
a housing having a pill dispensing opening, and a display area;
a holder portion of said housing having a plurality of pill holding slots arranged in a substantially circular layout;
actuating means for rotatably moving the plurality of pill holding slots to provide individual access through said pill dispensing opening in a sequential manner; and
indicating means operatively engaged to said holder portion for communicating to the user a time interval through the display area corresponding to one of said plurality of pill holding slots.
2. The pill dispenser of claim 1 wherein the housing further comprises a substantially transparent cover with the pill dispensing opening and the display area located thereon.
3. The pill dispenser of claim 2 wherein indicating means comprises a rotatable dial mounted to the cover and operatively engaged to the actuating means, said rotatable dial including indicia printed thereon for sequential display through the display area
4. The pill dispenser of claim 1 further comprising a reversibly locking mechanism to prevent movement of the plurality of pill holding slots during non-use.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is relates to a pill dispensing case, and more particularly a pill dispenser having patient compliant indicating means, which automatically updates itself each time the user dispenses a pill at periodic intervals.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In writing out prescriptions, physicians typically include instructions pertaining to the frequency of ingestion of prescribed medication in specific time intervals (e.g. once a day). Such intervals may range from a matter of hours to days depending on the medication and the condition being treated. Examples of pills that are prescribed in a set periodic time regimen include those that are administered for birth control, for regulating blood pressure, for regulating blood lipids, as antibiotics, and for treating a variety of other ailments such as diabetes. Failure to properly follow the physician's instructions often results in ineffective treatment, possible injury or even death. Thus, it is important to ensure patient compliance with prescription medications and other medications as well.

The packaging of pills is well known in the art. Typically, pill cases contain a plurality of pills which can be accessed by the user as needed. Such cases are typically in the form of the standard pill containers or vials often equipped with a child resistant cap. Such containers generally lack any compliance features which facilitate the patient taking the proper dosage of the medication at the proper time interval. In addition, the standard containers are frequently difficult to open especially by those with limited dexterity such as the elderly.

Blister packs have been developed to facilitate a proper dosage regimen. Blister packs house a preselected number of pills which are protected so that they cannot be broken by contact with other pills. The blister packs store pills in spaced apart pill receiving cavities which are then sealed using a protective cover such as coated paper, foil, plastic or the like. The pills may be removed from the cavities one at a time by piercing the cover or by applying pressure to one side of the covered pill until the pill bursts through the protective cover. The blister pack form of packaging permits the patient to see the pills through a clear portion of the protective cover thus permitting the patient to see which pills have been taken and how many doses remain. This packaging also allows a dosage counter or schedule to be printed on the packaging material. However, such schedule are not easily adjusted to correspond with an actual dosing date. Moreover, blister packs are also difficult for patients with limited dexterity to access the packaged pills for dispensing.

It is important that the patient be able to determine whether or not a pill has been taken at the correct time and that another pill will be available in the proper time. This ensures that the patient completes the medication regimen in a proper manner. It is also important for the patient to be able to access the pills with minimal difficulty, while maintaining adequate safety features to prevent accidental dispensing. Pill dispensers are known in the art and typically are desirably compact so that they can be carried by the user in a purse or in a shirt pocket or other convenient location.

Pill dispensers currently available typically utilize discrete pill holding compartments each printed with indicia. The indicia generally represents the days of the week or dosing numbers that allows the patient to view when the last dosage was dispensed. The system that uses dosing numbers can encounter problems where the patient fails to recall when the medication was initially dispensed or what dosing number correlates to which day. The system that uses the days of the week provides a more intuitive approach to tracking dosages of medication since there is a day-to-day correlation. However, this system limits pill dispensers to dosing regimens that are multiples of seven (e.g., 7, 14, 21, 28 doses) to maintain the correlation with the days of the week.

Despite these efforts there remains the need for a pill storage/dispensing device that is a) compact, b) provides easy access to the pills, c) capable of accommodating pills for a variety of extended prescription periods, d) capable of promoting compliance in patients by reducing confusion, uncertainty or forgetfulness, and e) equipped to prevent unintentional access of the pills to children.

It would therefore be a significant advantage in the art to provide users an opportunity to house medications in a pill dispenser which can readily accommodate individual pills in discrete pill holding slots and which facilitates dispensing of the desired dose of pills. It would also be an advantage in the art if the pill dispenser can readily accommodate varying quantity of pills or doses depending on the particular requirements of the medication and the dosage regimen required by the patient. It would be a further advantage in the art to provide a pill dispenser that can accommodate various time intervals (e.g. up to and more than 30 days), and it would be a still further advantage in the art if the pill dispenser is compact, easy to carry and store in a purse, shirt pocket or the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally directed to a pill dispenser that includes compliance features which facilitate proper medication dosing over the period of time that the pills are to be dispensed (i.e. regimen period). The pill dispenser includes a housing with a pill dispensing opening and a display area for displaying indicia corresponding to a particular day of the week. The housing includes a pill holding portion having a plurality of pill holding slots arranged in a substantially circular layout, and actuating means for moving the pill holding portion relative to the pill dispensing opening whereby individual access to one of the plurality of pill holding slots can be made therethrough. The pill dispenser further includes patient compliant indicator means in operative engagement with the pill holding portion to display in the display area, the day of the week corresponding to the pill holding slot in communication with the opening. Optionally, the actuating means includes a locking mechanism that must be disengaged to move the pill holding portion, thereby incorporating child safety features that prevent accidental dispensing.

The pill holding portion may be adapted to receive and accommodate any number of pills depending on the maximum capacity of the dispenser for matching with a particular dosage regimen particularly suited for the patient. For example, if the patient requires a 15 day medication regimen or a 30 day regimen, then the pill holding portion of the pill dispenser may be filled to accommodate the required number of pills. The pill dispenser of the present invention can therefore accommodate short- and long-term prescriptions and is not limited to dosage regimens that are multiples of seven.

It will be understood that reference to the term “pill” as used herein shall include not only pills of a variety of shapes and sizes but all forms of dispensable products or articles of manufacture such as medications which can effectively be housed in the device of the present invention including tablets, capsules, lozenges, caplets and the like. Likewise, all reference to a “pill dispenser” shall mean a dispenser which can accommodate the dispensable product or article of manufacture.

In one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a pill dispenser comprising:

a housing having a pill dispensing opening, and a display area;

a holder portion of the housing having a plurality of pill holding slots arranged in a substantially circular layout;

actuating means for rotatably moving the plurality of pill holding slots to provide individual access through the pill dispensing opening in a sequential manner; and

indicating means operatively engaged to the holder portion for communicating to the user a time interval through the display area corresponding to one of the plurality of pill holding slots.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following drawings in which like reference characters indicate like parts are illustrative of embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limit the invention as encompassed by the claims forming part of the application.

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a pill dispenser for one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the pill dispenser in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational of the pill dispenser in the direction along lines 3-3 of FIG. 2 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the pill dispenser taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a bottom portion of the pill dispenser of FIG. 1 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an exploded assembly view of the pill dispenser in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an exploded assembly view looking from the bottom of the pill dispenser in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the pill dispenser in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9A is a top perspective view of a pill dispenser for a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9B is a bottom perspective view of the pill dispenser of FIG. 9A in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 10 is a top perspective view of a pill dispenser having a dosing tab or flap for securing the opening thereof for another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a pill dispenser that includes compliance features which facilitate proper medication dosing over the regimen period. The pill dispenser includes a housing with a pill dispensing opening and a display area for displaying a particular day of the week. The housing includes a pill holding portion having a plurality of pill holding slots arranged in a substantially circular layout, and actuating means for moving the pill holding portion relative to the pill dispensing opening whereby individual access to one of the plurality of pill holding slots can be made through the pill dispensing opening. The pill dispenser further includes indicator means in operative engagement with the pill holding portion to display in the display area the day of the week corresponding to the pill holding slot in communication with the opening. Optionally, the actuating means includes a locking mechanism that must be disengaged to implement the dispensing operation.

The pill dispenser of the present invention is ergonomically designed to assist those with limited dexterity and is sufficiently compact for easy carry and storage in one's pocket, purse or tight space. The design of the present invention offers a higher perceived value to the product contained, improved aesthetics, and ease of handling and use. The pill dispenser of the present invention includes features that enable the patient to properly follow a medication regimen, and is capable of accommodating any number of doses. This feature reduces the time and expense associated with packaging and dispensing pills.

It will be understood that the present invention can be used to store and dispense a variety of articles such as gum, confections, and the like. For illustrative purposes, reference hereinafter will be to a pill dispenser for dispensing pills. Although rectangular pills are shown, it is to be understood that the present dispenser may be modified to receive elongated and elliptical pills, tablets, capsules and the like.

Referring to the drawings and first to FIGS. 1-4, there is shown a pill dispenser 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Typically, a pharmacist or pharmaceutical supply vendor will load or fill the pill dispenser 10 with medication prior to sale. However, the pill dispenser 10 may be loaded or filled by the end user or patient. The pill dispenser 10 may be pre-packaged in a tamper resistant pouch to allow a pharmacist to apply an Rx label. The pill dispenser 10 may be constructed of any durable material including plastic, and molded into any size, shape, or color for easy identification and association with a specific medication.

The pill dispenser 10 includes a housing 12 formed in combination from a base portion 14 and a substantially transparent cover 16, and a dose-designating dial 18. The pill dispenser 10 is designed to accommodate and retain a plurality of pills 20 in a spaced apart substantially circular arrangement for individual dispensing through a dispensing opening 22 located in the cover 16. The opening 22 may include a lid or covering (not shown) in the form of a removable tab, tape or lamination to prevent pills from falling out prior to beginning the dosage regimen and to provide tamper resistant safety measures. Each pill 20 occupies a pill holding slot 24. The cover includes a hand-gripping portion 26 to allow a patient to operate the pill dispenser 10, and a display area 28 as will be described hereinafter.

The pill dispenser 10 is designed to dispense a pill 20 in a secure and measured manner. The cover 16 is rotatable in a clockwise direction within the base portion 14 to advance the opening 22 to the next pill holding slot 24 for dispensing. Concurrently, a dose designating dial 18 rotatably advances to the next indicia 27 within the display area 28. Thus, each pill holding slot 24 is sequentially associated with an indicia 27 on the dial 18.

The pill dispenser 10 may further include a locking mechanism (not shown) that prevents the cover 16 from rotating, and unintentionally dispensing a pill 20. The locking mechanism is similar to the types found on standard medication vials or bottles utilizing child-proof caps as known to one of ordinary skill in the art. This feature prevents persons other than the patient such as a child from gaining access to the pills 20 contained therein.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the pill dispenser 10 is shown having a low and compact profile.

Referring to FIG. 5, the base portion 14 of the pill dispenser 10 includes a plurality of gripping tabs 30 spaced apart along the periphery thereof. The gripping tabs 30 enhance the patient's grip on the dispenser 10 during use. The base portion further includes a centrally located bore 32 for receiving a pair of retaining clips 34 depending downwardly from the cover 16 for securing the components to one another.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, the base portion 14 includes the centrally located bore 32, a gear journal area 36 extending along the periphery of the centrally located bore 32 and bounded by a housing gear structure 38, a dial journal area 40 extending along the periphery of the housing gear structure 38, and a plurality of pill holding slots 24 arranged radially around the dial journal area 40. The pills 20 occupy the pill holding slots 24 in a spaced apart circular arrangement. The dose designating dial 18 includes a dial gear structure 42 located on the bottom side thereof. The dial gear structure 42 resides in the gear journal area 36 and is operatively engaged to the housing gear structure 38. The dial 18 is supported by the dial journal area 40 which acts as a bearing surface. The housing gear structure 38 and the dial gear structure 42 engage one another to cause the dial 18 to rotate on its y-axis as it travels along the gear journal area 36.

The cover 16 is mounted and secured to the top side of the base portion 14 through operative engagement of the outwardly biased retaining clips 34 with the bottom exterior end of the bore 32 (as best shown in FIG. 5). The cover 16 further includes a downwardly depending spindle 44 which occupies a centrally located aperture 46 in the dial 18. The spindle 44 maintains the relative position of the dial 18 and the display area 28 of the cover 16, while allowing the dial 18 to rotate 360 degrees about the y-axis during the dispensing operation. As the dial 18 moves with the cover 16 along the bearing surface of the dial journal area 40 in the clockwise direction, the interaction between the dial gear portion 42 and the outer gear portion 38 of the base portion 14 causes the dial 18 to rotate incrementally in the counterclockwise direction.

In the present embodiment as shown, the pill dispenser 10 is adapted to accommodate up to thirty daily doses. It will be understood, however, that a greater or lesser number of daily doses may be accommodated by the present device. In the illustrated embodiment, the gearing assembly is configured to cause the cover 16 to be movable in increments of 1/30th of a rotation to advance the opening 22 to the next pill holding slot 24, while at the same time, the dial 18 rotates 1/7th of a rotation to reveal the next indicia 27 corresponding to the next day of the week through the display area 28. When the opening 22 is aligned with one of the pill holding slots 24, the corresponding indicia 27 is visible through the display area 28. This design allows the pill dispenser 10 flexibly accommodate any number of doses in addition to those measured in multiples of seven.

Referring to FIG. 8, the pill dispenser 10 in connection with its operation and implementation will now be explained in greater detail. The patient releases the covering or lid (not shown) securing the opening 22 for access the pill dispenser 10. If the pill dispenser 10 is being used for the first time, the patient sets the indicia 27 to correspond to the actual day of the week. The patient grasps the base portion 14 with one hand, and the handing-gripping portion 26 of the cover 16 with the other hand. The patient applies pressure downwardly (shown by the arrow) 48 on the top of the cover 16 to disengage the locking mechanism (not shown), and turns the cover 16 in the clockwise direction until the proper indicia 27 is visible through the display area 28. At this point, the patient dispenses the corresponding pill 20 from the pill holding slot 24. At the next dosing interval, the patient repeats by pressing down on the cover 16 and rotating it in the clockwise direction to the next pill holding slot 24 where the next pill 20 can be dispensed therefrom.

Referring to FIGS. 9A and 9B, there is shown a pill dispenser 50 for a second embodiment of the present invention. The pill dispenser 50 is similar in nearly all aspects of the previous embodiment including its operation. The pill dispenser 50 includes a housing 52 formed from a base portion 54 and a cover 56, a dispensing opening 58, and a display area 62. The base portion 54 has a rectangular shape, and the cover 56 includes a double sided gripping portion 60.

Referring to FIG. 10, the pill dispenser 50 further includes a removable tab or flap 64 secured to the dispensing opening 58. The removable tab 64 can be used as a safety feature to prevent tampering prior to initial use.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7946450Apr 25, 2008May 24, 2011R.J. Reynolds Tobacco CompanyDispensing container
US8033425Mar 4, 2008Oct 11, 2011R.J. Reynolds Tobacco CompanyDispensing container
US8066123Apr 22, 2010Nov 29, 2011R. J. Reynolds Tobacco CompanyLockable and compartmentalized package
US8087540Apr 16, 2009Jan 3, 2012R.J. Reynolds Tabacco CompanyDispensing container for metered dispensing of product
US8096411Jan 12, 2010Jan 17, 2012R. J. Reynolds Tabacco CompanyDispensing container
US8152020 *Jul 9, 2008Apr 10, 2012Flowers Mary EDosage dispensing and tracking container
US8397945Jun 11, 2010Mar 19, 2013R.J. Reynolds Tobacco CompanyDispensing container
US8579116 *Mar 26, 2012Nov 12, 2013Oneworld Design and Manufacturing Group, Ltd.Tamper evident device
US20120241451 *Mar 26, 2012Sep 27, 2012Fred PetherTamper Device
US20130248553 *Nov 24, 2011Sep 26, 2013Mats ErikssonMedicine dispensing device with locking interaction between hatch and dividing wall
WO2012070995A1 *Nov 24, 2011May 31, 2012Mats ErikssonMedicine dispensing device with locking interaction between hatch and dividing wall
Classifications
U.S. Classification221/121
International ClassificationB65D83/04
Cooperative ClassificationA61J7/04, B65D83/0454
European ClassificationA61J7/04, B65D83/04C1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 31, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: PHARMADESIGN INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CIEM NATTHEW T.;COSTA, RICHARD;MACH, HUNG;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:017171/0440
Effective date: 20051027