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Publication numberUS20070138048 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/304,088
Publication dateJun 21, 2007
Filing dateDec 15, 2005
Priority dateDec 15, 2005
Publication number11304088, 304088, US 2007/0138048 A1, US 2007/138048 A1, US 20070138048 A1, US 20070138048A1, US 2007138048 A1, US 2007138048A1, US-A1-20070138048, US-A1-2007138048, US2007/0138048A1, US2007/138048A1, US20070138048 A1, US20070138048A1, US2007138048 A1, US2007138048A1
InventorsMatthew Coe, Richard Costa
Original AssigneeCoe Matthew T, Richard Costa
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular pill case with separable pill-holding members
US 20070138048 A1
Abstract
A pill case includes a plurality of pill-holding members having reversibly attachment means enabling adjacent pill-holding members to be reversibly attached to each other. The pill-holding members are juxtaposed in a closed loop construction where each of the plurality of pill-holding members includes a first pill storing and dispensing area enclosed by a reversibly closable flap. Optionally, the pill case includes a central support member in operative engagement to each of the pill-holding members.
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Claims(17)
1. A pill case, comprising:
a plurality of pill-holding members comprising reversible attachment means enabling adjacent pill-holding members to be reversibly attached to each other, said pill-holding members being juxtaposed in a closed loop construction; and
each of said plurality of pill-holding members comprising a first pill storing and dispensing area enclosed by a reversibly closable flap.
2. The pill case of claim 1 wherein each pill-holding member further comprises a second pill storing and dispensing area enclosed by a reversibly closable flap accessible on the opposite side from the first pill storing and dispensing area.
3. The pill case of claim 1 further comprises a central support member in operative engagement to each of the pill-holding members.
4. The pill case of claim 3 wherein the central support member further comprises a central surface defining an area for placement of the user's fingers.
5. The pill case of claim 4 wherein the central surface is adapted to support the application of indicia thereon.
6. The pill case of claim 4 wherein the area of the central surface is recessed relative to at least one of the upper and lower surfaces of the pill-holding members.
7. The pill case of claim 1 in the form of a circular ring.
8. The pill case of claim 1 comprising at least two pill-holding members.
9. The pill case of claim 8 comprising at least seven pill-holding members.
10. The pill case of claim 9 further comprising seven pill-holding members.
11. The pill case of claim 1 wherein the reversible attachment means comprises a plug located on one pill-holding member, and a recessed socket adapted for snugly receiving the plug located on an adjacent pill-holding member.
12. The pill case of claim 1 in a form selected from the group consisting of a disk, an ellipse, a triangle, a quadrangle, a pentagon, a hexagon, a heptagon, and a polygon.
13. The pill case of claim 3 wherein the central support member is located centrally among the plurality of pill-holding members.
14. The pill case of claim 13 wherein the central support member is dimensioned to bias outwardly in a radial direction against the plurality of pill-holding members.
15. The pill case of claim 13 wherein the central support member is retained in place through a snap-in engagement with the plurality of pill-holding members.
16. The pill case of claim 1 composed of a rigid, durable lightweight, medically acceptable container type material.
17. The pill case of claim 16 wherein the material is selected from the group consisting of molded plastic and extruded plastic.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is relates to pill cases, and more particularly a pill case having separable pill-holding members attached to one another in a closed loop construction.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Pill cases, also known as pill boxes, are compact containers for securely housing medications such as pills, tablets, or capsules. Such personal pill cases are known in the art, and are typically designed to be small and unobtrusive so that they can be stowed in a purse or in a shirt pocket or other convenient location. They allow users to pack and conveniently carry limited individualized dosages of one or more medications.

Physicians typically include instructions with prescriptions pertaining to the frequency of ingestion of prescribed medication in specific time intervals (e.g. once a day or after every meal). Such intervals may range from a matter of hours to a day depending on the medication and the condition being treated. Prescription medications are typically filled for the user with the necessary drug information supplied by the pharmacist. Many over-the-counter medications include packaging printed with necessary drug information such as administration instructions, dosing regimens, symptoms and conditions to be treated, warnings, ingredients, and the like. This information is necessary to enable users to properly use the prescribed medication. The drug information accompanying such medications, is important to ensure compliance by the patient and that the patient is properly informed about the particulars of the corresponding drug regimen.

Some examples of pills that are prescribed in a set dose and periodic time regimen include those that are administered for birth control, for regulating blood pressure, for regulating blood lipids, antibiotics, and for treating a variety of other ailments such as diabetes. Failure to properly follow the physician's instructions can sometimes lead to unsuccessful treatment, and possible injury or even death. It is important to ensure patient compliance with prescription medications and other medications as well.

Personal pill cases typically include multiple pill-containing compartments, which are generally individually accessible by the user through a common closure or individual compartment closure. Each compartment is adapted to receive and retain a single grouping or dose of one or more medications to be taken at a particular time, which may be individually identified by indicia printed on the closure or in proximity to the compartments. In this manner, the personal pill cases can be implemented to enable users to take their medication at the appointed times, thus facilitating compliance.

The number or amount of dosages held in such personal pill cases is limited, so the user must periodically refill the case from the standard pill containers supplied by the pharmacist. Such small, pocket-sized pill cases, which have been used for years, allow the user to pre-fill the container with medication to be dispensed for a period that may range from a day to a month, and to conveniently carry it with them. These personal pill cases enhance administration by reminding the user of the proper time for dispensing of pills in a consistent manner. In addition, their small size and compact profile make them especially convenient for individuals needing to take medications at scheduled intervals. However, the number of pill containing compartments in a pill case is typically fixed (e.g. seven days), and provides little flexibility for the user where it may be desirable to carry less than the full complement of pill compartments.

Accordingly, it would be an advantage in the art of pill case design to develop a pill case constructed with multiple pill-holding members or compartments conveniently separable from one another to enable the user to carry less than all of the members. It would be an advantage in the art to develop a pill case designed with a modular construction whereby the pill-holding members are arranged in a configuration that improves handling. There is a need for pill cases designed to accommodate one or more dosable ingestible products typically in the form of pill medications which may be administered at the same or different time intervals and/or groupings during the day, while enhancing storage and carry convenience. There is a need for pill cases ergonomically designed for ease of operation and hand-holdable comfort especially for users with limited hand dexterity. There is a further need for pill cases that are easily accessible to the user, compact for carrying in a purse, shirt pocket or the like, while advancing user compliance and safety.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a pill case comprising a plurality of separable pill-holding members attached to one another in a closed loop construction. The pill-holding members each include at least one compartment or slot defining a single area for holding a single pill or a group of pills as broadly defined hereinafter. Each of the pill-holding members is configured for reversible attachment to an adjacent member through a reversible attachment mechanism. Accordingly the pill case may be readily taken apart by the user to obtain a desired number of pill compartments as needed to maximize or minimize the desired capacity of the pill case or to carry a select number of pill-holding members.

The pill-holding members are attached through the reversible attachment mechanism to form a closed loop construction as hereinafter described. The closed loop construction bolsters the structural strength of the pill case by employing each of the pill compartments as a supporting element for the pill case which renders the pill case stronger than conventional linear pill cases. The closed loop construction also enhances attachment between the pill-holding members, and provides a shape and contour that facilitates handling of the pill case by the user.

The present pill case is easier to open and close the pill-holding members, as well as to add or remove individual pill-holding members. The features of the present pill case provide improved operability and improved access to the compartments of the pill case. Accordingly, the pill case of the present invention is especially useful for users with limited hand dexterity.

The pill case may further include a central support member in operative engagement to the pill-holding members. The central support member provides an additional surface for gripping and enhances the overall structural rigidity and stiffness of the pill case. The central support member may further enable addition and removal of select pill-holding members from the pill case as desired, while the rest of the pill-holding members of the pill case remain intact, and connected to each other.

Each of the pill-holding members may further include indicia to assist the user in identifying the pills contained therein, and which dosages are to be administered at a particular scheduled time. The pill case of the present invention permits the user to visually determine whether a particular grouping of pills or dose had been taken. The present invention provides the user with a simple tool to organize, store, and remember the proper schedule for administering medication, all within a personal pill case that is compact so that is may be readily carried in a pocket, purse or the like.

In a particular embodiment of the present invention, the pill case includes multiple pill-holding members each reversibly attached to adjacent pill-holding members juxtaposed to yield a closed loop construction, preferably in the form of a ring. The pill-holding members each include at least one pill-holding cavity or slot, and a corresponding flap or cover for reversibly enclosing the cavity or slot. Optionally, the pill case may be at least partially transparent, thus allowing the user to see the contents of the pill-holding cavities.

The pill-holding members may be adapted to receive and accommodate any number of pills depending on the maximum capacity of the pill case for matching with a particular dosage regimen particularly suited for the user. For example, if the user requires a 7-day medication regimen or a 14-day regimen, then the pill-holding members of the pill case may be filled to accommodate the required number of pills.

The pill case of the present invention can therefore accommodate short- and long-term prescriptions and thus 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 medication carrying articles of a variety of shapes and sizes but all forms of dispensable solid articles of manufacture such as chewing gums, confectionery products (e.g., hard candies) which may include an active agent such as a medication, vitamin, nutraceutical and the like which can effectively be housed in the device of the present invention. Examples of “pills” as used herein include any solid ingestible product that can be carried in a pill case, including tablets, capsules, lozenges, caplets and the like. Likewise, all reference to a “pill case” shall mean a container, which can accommodate the dispensable article of manufacture.

The term “closed loop construction” shall mean a plurality of pill-holding members which when all connected together in the form of a pill case are arranged in an endless path that closes back on itself such as a disk, a circle or ring, an ellipse, a triangle, a quadrangle (e.g., square), a pentagon, a hexagon, a heptagon, a polygon or the like. The closed loop construction can be reversibly altered when one or more of the pill-holding members are removed from the pill case.

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

a plurality of pill-holding members comprising reversibly attachment means enabling adjacent pill-holding members to be reversibly attachable to each other, said pill-holding members being juxtaposed to yield a closed loop construction; and

each of the plurality of pill-holding members comprising a first pill storing and dispensing area enclosed by a reversibly closable flap.

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 case for one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the pill case of FIG. 1 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of the pill case in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4A is a top perspective view of the pill case shown with one of the pill-holding members detached therefrom in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4B is an elevation view of the pill case shown with one of the pill-holding members detached therefrom in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a pill-holding member of the pill case in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a pill case that comprises multiple pill-holding members or units reversibly joined together in a closed loop construction as defined herein. The closed loop construction bolsters the structural strength of the pill case, enhances attachment between the pill-holding members, and a shape and contour that facilitates handling of the pill case by the user. The features of the present pill case provide improved operability and improved access to the pill-holding compartments. Accordingly, the pill case of the present invention is especially useful for users with limited hand dexterity.

Optionally the pill case of the present invention may further include a central support member in operative engagement to the pill-holding members. The central support member provides a further surface for gripping and enhances the structural rigidity and stiffness of the pill case. The central support member may further enable addition or removal of select pill-holding members from the pill case as desired, while the rest of the pill-holding members of the pill case remain intact, and connected to each other.

The pill case of the present invention includes compliance features useful for facilitating proper medication dosing over a regimen period and enhances the ease and regularity of administration by reminding the user of the proper time for dispensing the pills. In addition, the small size and compact profile of the pill case facilitates convenient use for those requiring medications at scheduled intervals. The pill case of the present invention is ergonomically designed to assist and enhance medication compliance for the user and is sufficiently compact for easy carry and storage in one's pocket, purse or other small space. The pill case of the present invention is capable of accommodating any number of doses, and reduces the time and expense associated with packaging and dispensing pills. The pill case of the present invention is simple to fabricate in a cost efficient manner, and easy to implement, thus making them especially suitable for use by patients and medical providers.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the pill case generally comprises a plurality of pill-holding members with reversible attachment means enabling reversible attachment of adjacent pill-holding members to each other, so that the pill-holding members are juxtaposed in a closed loop construction. Preferably, the closed loop construction as defined herein is in the form of a disk- or ring-like structure. Optionally, the pill case includes a central support member located centrally within the closed loop construction, in operative engagement to the pill-holding members.

Examples of “pills” as used herein include any solid ingestible product that can be carried in a pill case, including tablets, capsules, lozenges, caplets and the like. Likewise, all reference to a “pill case” shall mean a container, which can accommodate the dispensable product or article of manufacture. In this manner, the present invention can be used to store and dispense a variety of solid, edible articles including, but not limited to, gums, confections, vitamins, nutraceuticals, nutritional supplements, and the like, as previously described. For illustrative purposes, reference hereinafter will be to a pill case for dispensing pills, typically containing an active agent, such as a medication.

The term “closed loop construction” shall mean a plurality of pill-holding members which when all connected together in the form of a pill case are arranged in an endless path that closes back on itself such as a disk, a circle or ring, an ellipse, a triangle, a quadrangle (e.g., square), a pentagon, a hexagon, a heptagon, a polygon or the like. The closed loop construction can be reversibly altered when one or more of the pill-holding members are removed from the pill case. Although a circular loop pill case is shown for one embodiment, it is understood that the present pill case may be modified to encompass a range of desirable sizes and closed loop shapes such as, for example, a disk, a triangle, a quadrangle, an ellipse, a polygon such as a pentagon, a hexagon, a heptagon, a polygon, or the like.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a pill case 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Typically, a pharmacist or pharmaceutical supply vendor may load or fill the pill case 10 with medication during dispensing. However, the pill case 10 may be distributed through physicians or vendors where the end user can load and fill from a standard prescription pill container. For a pre-filled pill case 10, the pill case 10 may be pre-packaged with a drug information/instruction pamphlet along with the corresponding medication. The pre-filled pill case 10 may thereafter be enclosed within a tamper resistant pouch on which a pharmacist may apply a proper Rx label. The pill case 10 can be fabricated from any rigid, durable, lightweight, medically acceptable container-type material including, but not limited to, plastics, and molded or extruded into any size, shape, color and the like for easy identification or association with a particular medication, brand of product and the like.

The pill case comprises a body 11 constructed from a plurality of pill-holding members 12 arranged in juxtaposition to form a closed loop construction as defined herein, and an optional central support member 14 centrally located within the body 11. The pill-holding members 12 are each adapted for reversible attachment through a reversible attachment mechanism as hereinafter described to form the closed loop construction. The closed loop construction of the pill-holding members 12 provides an ergonomic shape and contour that enables the user to readily grip the pill case, and substantially bolsters the structure of the pill case for greater durability, impact resistance and overall sturdiness.

The central support member 14 is adapted for reversible retainment in the central portion of the body 11. The central support member 14 is operatively engaged to the pill-holding members 12 and fastened in place by the inner portion of the body 11 through a reversible attachment mechanism preferably providing snap-in engagement. The central support member 14 includes a surface 15 on each side thereof for providing a recessed placement area for the user's fingers. The surface 15 facilitates gripping of the pill case 10, while providing a platform on which indicia may be printed for informational or advertising purposes. The central support member 14 is dimensioned to radially exert pressure onto the attached pill-holding members 12. This pressure generates tension in the body 11 to yield a tighter coupling engagement between attached pill-holding members 12, and greater structural strength and durability to the pill case 10.

Each of the pill-holding members 12 includes an upper closure flap 16 defining an upper interior compartment 20 (as shown best in FIGS. 4A and 5), and a lower closure flap 18 on the opposed side thereof defining a lower interior compartment (not shown). The upper interior compartment 20 and the lower interior compartment (not shown) each define a single area, respectively, for holding a single pill or a group of pills. In the present embodiment, the pill case 10 is shown with seven pill-holding members 12. However, it is understood that the number of pull-holding members can vary as needed.

In accordance with the present embodiment, the pill case 10 is adapted to store and dispense up to two daily dosages over a seven-day period. Thus, the single areas of the upper interior compartment 20 and the lower interior compartment (not shown) may be designated as evening (PM) and morning dosages (AM), respectively.

With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, the pill-holding members 12 are arranged in juxtaposition along the outside periphery of the central support member 14. The top and bottom sides of the pill case 10 are symmetrical to one another. The pill-holding members 12 can be accessed through the corresponding upper and lower closure flaps 16 and 18, respectively. Each of the upper and lower closure flaps 16 and 18, respectively, are attached to the pill-holding members 12 via living hinges 22 forming part of the inner portion of the body 11. The living hinges 22 enable the flaps 16 and 18 to move between the open and closed positions. The living hinges 22 are positioned to securely retain the central support member 14 through a snap-in engagement therebetween.

Each of the upper and lower closure flaps 16 and 18 includes an upper finger tab 24 and a lower flip tab 26, respectively, for engagement by the user to move the respective flaps 16 and 18 for prompt access to the corresponding upper compartment 20 and lower compartment (not shown).

The body 11 is shaped with a flattened circular profile affording a natural and comfortable fit in the user's hand, while the finger surfaces 15 of the central support member 14 are recessed to provide a comfortable finger placement and grasping area for the user's fingers on both sides of the pill case 10. This feature provides the user with a firm hold with one hand on the pill case 10. The user can access the corresponding pill-holding members 12, or separate the pill-holding members 12 from the pill case 10 with greater ease using the other hand.

Referring to FIGS. 4A and 4B, the pill-holding members 12 are each configured to be individually taken apart from the pill case 10 by the disengagement of the reversible attachment mechanism between adjacent pill-holding members as previously described. The pill-holding members 12 each comprise the reversible attachment mechanism shown in this embodiment as a linking assembly comprising a recessed socket 28 located at one end of the member 12, and a plug 30 on the opposed end of the member 12 (as shown best in FIG. 4B). The recessed socket 28 and the plug 30 are oriented in such a manner as to permit the recessed socket 28 of one pill-holding member 12 to receive and accommodate the plug 30 of an adjacent pill-holding member 12 to produce a secure reversible linking engagement therebetween.

As shown in FIG. 4B, the pill-holding member 12 b is attached to the pill case 10 through linking assemblies with adjacent pill-holding members 12 a and 12 c. The attachment of the pill-holding member 12 b to the pill case 10 is generally made by inserting the plug 30 of the pill-holding member 12 a into the corresponding recessed socket 28 of the pill-holding member 12 b, while simultaneously inserting the plug 30 of the pill-holding member 12 b into the recessed socket 28 of the pill-holding member 12 c. Each of the pill-holding members 12 may be removed from the pill case 10 by disengaging the respective plugs 30 from the corresponding recessed slots 28.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the central support member 14 and the pill-holding members 12 may be adapted for coupling engagement therebetween. In this manner, each of the pill-holding members 12 can be removed or added independently from one another, while the rest of pill-holding members 12 remain linked to the central support member 14 in the pill case 10. The user may remove or add the pill-holding members 12 depending on the desired capacity corresponding to a particular scheduled dispensing. Alternatively, the user may carry the individual pill-holding member 12 removed from the pill case 10.

Referring to FIG. 5, a pill-holding member 12 is shown with the upper closure flap 16 in an opened position. The upper closure flap 16 is movably attached to the pill-holding member 14 through the living hinge 22, and is securely retained in the closed position by a latch 32 engaged to a corresponding latch receiving portion (not shown) in the upper compartment 20. When the upper closure flap 16 is in the opened position, the upper compartment 20 is adapted to receive the pills. With the upper closure flap 16 in the closed position, the user can access the upper compartment 20 by applying upward pressure to the upper finger tab 24 to disengage the latch 32. The lower closure flap 16 and the lower compartment (not shown) are configured in a similar manner.

The foregoing discussion discloses and describes merely exemplary embodiments of the present invention. One skilled in the art will readily recognize from such discussion, and from the accompanying drawings and claims, that various changes, modifications and variations can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7854326 *Mar 3, 2009Dec 21, 2010Beckett Selena JMedicine storage apparatus
US8381911 *Aug 13, 2008Feb 26, 2013Karl-Heinz BuchnerWeekly dispenser for medicaments
US20090127157 *Nov 12, 2008May 21, 2009One World Design & Manufacturing Group, Ltd.Pill bottle
US20110120905 *Aug 13, 2008May 26, 2011Karl-Heinz BuchnerWeekly dispenser for medicaments
US20120160730 *Nov 19, 2011Jun 28, 2012Mary Ann AndrewsSystem and method for distributing medicine
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/528
International ClassificationB65D85/42
Cooperative ClassificationA61J7/04
European ClassificationA61J7/04
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 8, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: PHARMADESIGN INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:COE, MATTHEW T.;COSTA, RICHARD;REEL/FRAME:017547/0212
Effective date: 20060202