US 3407962 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct. 29, 1968 J. B. RAGAN 6 TIME-INDICATING TABLET-DISPENSING CONTAINER Filed May 29, 1967 4 I INVENTOR- JAMES B. RAGAN BY W 7 United States Patent 3,407,962 TIME-[NDICATING TABLET-DISPENSING CONTAINER James B. Ragan, San Rafael, Califi, assignor to Ways &
Means, Inc., San Rafael, Calif., a corporation of California Filed May 29, 1967, Ser. No. 642,006 6 Claims. (Cl. 221-4) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A tablet container comprising a tubular enclosure and means displaceable axially of the enclosure for retaining an individual tablet in the enclosure and thus all tablets behind the retained tablet. Means is provided to advance the tablet-retaining means axially of the container and thus transfer its retaining function to succeeding tablets while releasing the foremost tablet for dispensation. The displaceable tablet-retaining means is associated with a re-settable time-indicating slide in such a manner that a part of it acts as a self-adjusting indicator which tells the user when to take the next tablet. Everytirne the tablet-retaining mechanism is manipulated to release a tablet, it marks another due time for consumption of the next tablet.
The present invention relates to containers for pills, tablets and the like, which may be manipulated to dispense their contents individually.
For a user of medicinal pills and tablets it is frequently important to take his pills dependably at certain time intervals, such as particular days or certain hours of the day; and vice versa, it may be of equal importance to avoid accidental overdosages of the medication by taking inadvertently more than one pill or tablet on the same day. In all these cases it becomes an important and sometimes difiicult task for the patient to memorize the times and/or dates when he has to take his pills, and equally so to remember dependably if he has actually taken them. This is especially true for users of birth control pills.
It is an object of my invention to provide a tabletdispensing container with indicating means that may be set to indicate when the pills have to be taken, and once set will automatically indicate whenever it has beenoperated to dispense a tablet, when the next pill or tablet has to be taken and if it has been taken.
Moreover, it is an object of my invention to furnish a tablet-dispensing container, of the type referred to, that may be manipulated to dispense its contents individually and which is provided with indicating means that is operated by the tablet-dispensing manipulation, to indicate when the next tablet is due.
These and other objects of the invention will be apparent from the following description of the accompanyin-g drawing which illustrates a preferred embodiment thereof and wherein FIGURE 1 is a perspective of a dispensing container embodying my invention;
FIGURE 2 is a longitudinal section through a portion of the container illustrated in FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a cross-section through the container taken along lines 33 of FIGURE 2; and
FIGURE 4 is a longitudinal section similar to FIG- URE 2 illustrating a modified embodiment of the in vention.
In accordance with the invention I provide a tubular tablet container with mechanism progressing along said r 3,407,962 1C Patented Oct. 29, 1968 tablet-release rechanism for indicating, on a calibrated scale which is adjustably mounted upon said container, the time when the next tablet is due to be taken, each time said tablet-release mechanism has been operated. The position of said scale is adjustable relative to the container so that the container may be adapted to different situations of use and the varying requirements patients.
The device of my invention comprises a tubular enclosure 10 for the reception of a stack of pills or tablets 11. Said enclosure has a closed end 12 and an open dispensing end which may be closed by a suitable plug or stopper 14. In the particular embodiment of the invention illustrated in the accompanying drawing the enclosure 10 has the form of a hollow elongated block of a suitable plastic material that has a smoothly cylindrical interior. Said block is of substantially rectangular cross section, with two opposite ones of its side surfaces recessed as shown at 16a and 16b so that four longitudinally extending ridges or ribs 18 are formed along lines cor responding to the four corners of the rectangle. The two recesses 16a and 16b have flat parallel floors 20a and 20b which are provided with centrally located, longitudinally extending, flat-bottomed grooves 22a and 22b, respectively, of such depth that the remaining enclosure wall 24 has the thinness and flexibility of a membrane. The four ridges of ribs 18 formed along the four corners of the enclosure 10 are notched as shown at 25 to form segments 26 of a screw thread and externally engaged upon the enclosure 10 is an internally threaded manipulating collar 28. By turning said collar in a clockwise direction, it advances upon said block in a direction from the rear to the front of the illustration. Slidably engaged over the enclosure block 10 in front of manipulating collar 28 is a sleeve 30 which may be of a lesser eX- ternal diameter than the collar 28, as illustrated in FIG- URE l, to facilitate independent rotary manipulation of the collar 28. Formed along opposite areas of the cylindrical inner surface of said sleeve 30 are raised platforms 32 that project into the recesses 16 between the ridges 18 of the enclosure block 10 and whose sides are slidably engaged by the inner sides of said ridges 18. Thus, the sleeve 30 is prevented from rotating with collar 28 and is constrained to move with said collar in a direction axially of the enclosure block 10 whenever the collar is turned in clockwise direction. Formed on the leading edges of the platforms at the center points thereof are inwardly directed teeth or shoes 34 which protrude into the grooves 24 along the bottom of the recesses 22 and are of such length as to bear against and inwardly deform the membranes 24 that constitute the floors of said grooves (FIGURE 2). When said teeth deform the floor 24 of the grooves 22 in front of a tablet 11 within the enclosure 10, they prevent said tablet and all the other tablets behind said tablet from sliding from the enclosure; and when appropriate rotation of the collar 28 and consequent advance of the sleeve 30 forces the teeth 34 to negotiate the foremost tablet and snap into position behind a foremost tablet, and project the floor membranes 24 into the space between the chamfered edges of the foremost tablet and the directly succeeding tablet, they release the foremost tablet for dispensation through the open end of the enclosure while safely retaining the directly succeeding tablet and all the other tablets behind it within the enclosure.
The inner side walls of the ridges or ribs 18 at either side of one of the recesses 16a and 16b, for instance recess 160, are provided with guide grooves 36, and slidably received within said guide grooves are the longitudinal side edges of an elongated calibrated strip 38.
Said strip overlies the floor 20 of the recess and is provided with an elongated central slot 40 which exposes the longitudinal groove 22a in said floor and provides space for the retaining teeth 34 of the sleeve 30 to operate in the hereinbefore described manner irrespective to the position of adjustment of the sliding strip 38. Marked upon the slide along its slot 40 at intervals equal to the thickness of the tablets for which a dispensing container may be designed, are calibrations indicative of the time intervals at which the tablets have to be taken. Thus, in the event of the container of my invention being designed to hold and dispense birth control pills, it will be of such length as to accommodate a months supply of pills, ie a stack of 20 pills, and the slide 38 will have at least 26 calibrations-each marked by initials identifying the consecutive days of four consecutive weeks.
For example, let us assume, a woman has purchased a container holding a months supply of birth control pills and wishes to begin her treatment. When the container is full, the teeth 34 of sleeve 30 are located in front of the foremost tablet in the stack of tablets in the container and both the sleeve 30 and the collar 28 are therefore located adjacent the dispensing end 13 of the enclosure. On the day the menstruation of the prospective user of the pills begins, she counts five days ahead-Which is the date when the first pill has to be taken-and sets the calibrated slide 38 accordingly. For instance, if her menstruation begins on a Monday, the day she has to take the first pill is the following Friday. She therefore moves the slide within its guide grooves 36 relative to the sleeve 30 until the first F on the scale (counting from the far end of the slide as viewed in FIGURE 1) is located directly in front of the sleeve. She now has a record that the treatment begins with next Friday. When Friday arrives, she removes the plug 14 from the container and turns the collar 28 through an angle sufficient to advance the sleeve 30 a distance equal to the thickness of a tablet. In the particular embodiment of the invention illustrated in the accompanying drawing, the thread of the collar 28 and the screw segments 26 along the corner ridges 18 of the enclosure block are so designed that it requires a quarter turn of the collar to advance both the collar and the sleeve by a distance equal to the thickness of a tablet. Accordingly, the cylindrical outer surface of collar 28 bears four angularly equi-spaced markers, such as the grooves 44 and the non-rotatable sleeve 30 is provided with a stationary indexing mark, such as the groove 45 at its summit. When the filled container is sold, one of the marks 44 upon collar 28 is aligned with the indexing mark 45 on the sleeve 30.
Reverting to my particular example of use of the container of the invention which I am about to describe; when Friday has arrived and the prospective user Wishes to take the first pill, she gives the collar 28 a quarter turn until the next mark 44 on its surface registers with the groove 45 in the surface of the sleeve 30. Suitable detenting or pawling mechanism may be provided in the confronted end surfaces of the collar 28 and the sleeve 30, such as indicated at 46 in FIGURE 2, to make this operation easier and minimize the danger that the collar 28 may be turned too far and thus effect release of more than a single tablet.
As the sleeve 30 is advanced by rotation of the collar 28, the teeth 34 on the leading edges of its internal platforms 32 negotiate the edges of the foremost tablet and drop into the space between the circumferential chamfers of the foremost and the directly succeeding tablet (FIGURE 2). The foremost tablet is now released for dispensation through the open end of the container while escape, from the container, of the directly succeeding tablet and consequently of all the tablets remaining in the container is effectively blocked. At the same time, the described advance of the sleeve 30 has covered the inscription F upon the calibrated slide 28 since the slide 4 remained stationary, While the sleeve advanced by a distance equal to the thickness of one tablet. It is now the inscription Sa, which is located directly in front of the leading edge of sleeve 30 indicating that the next pill has to be taken on Saturday and also assuring one in doubt that she has taken her pill on Friday. For the remaining nineteen days it is now an easy matter for the user to remember when to take her pill and to make sure that she has actually taken it and there is no danger, memorywise, that she may have taken more than one pill per day, or started the treatment on the wron day or continued it too long.
It remains to point out that the closed end 12 of the enclosure 10 may have a solid extension beyond the space where the last of the tablets is located, so that the slide 38 will never project beyond the enclosure block irrespective of the position to which it may have to be adjusted relative to the sleeve 30 in its initial position preparatory to commencement of a treatment with the pills in the enclosure.
FIGURE 4 illustrates a modified embodiment of the tablet-retaining mechanism of the invention. In said figure the longitudinally extending area 24' of reduced wall thickness of enclosure 10' is provided with a sequence of minute transverse ridges 50 which are spaced apart by distances equal to the thickness of the tablets for which the container is designed. In use these ridges are to lie centrally upon the edge of a tablet in the enclosure, as illustrated in FIGURE 4. The teeth or shoes 52 on the platforms 32' are of sufficient length to overlie at least two consecutive ridges. Wherever the shoes 52 overlie ridges in the floor of the groove 24, they clamp the intermediately located tablets dependably into position so that they cannot be dispensed from the container; and whenever the sleeve 30' is advanced by manipulation of the collar 28' and the shoes 52 slide beyond the ridges 50 above the circumferential edge of the foremost tablet, said tablet is released and may be dispensed from the container while the next two tablets are gripped through the ridges 50 and are dependably retained in the enclosure, thus blocking escape of all remaining tablets. The reason for making the shoes 52 sufiiciently long to engage at least two consecutive ridges is to make certain that a second tablet may not accidently escape with the foremost tablet from the container, as the shoes release the foremost tablet.
While I have described my invention with the aid of certain preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the specific constructional details shown and described by way of example, which may be departed from without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Also, while I have explained the usefulness of my invention with particular reference to birth control pills, the container of my invention is of great utility and affords great convenience in connection with other pills and tablets wherever it is important that medicine in the form of pills or tablets be regularly and dependably taken, and that acci dental overdosages be avoided, such as for instance blood pressure medication or prescribed dosage with sulpha drugs or antibiotics.
1. A tablet container comprising a tubular enclosure having a longitudinally extending wall area of reduced thickness and having threads formed on its outer surface, a sleeve engaged over said enclosure for sliding movement relative thereto, said sleeve having a projection extending into contact with and press against a point of said area of reduced wall thickness and in this manner retain a tablet within said enclosure, an internally threaded collar engaged over said enclosure adjacent said sleeve to advance, upon rotation, said sleeve in a direction longitudinally of said enclosure, and cause its projection to release a tablet and effect retention of another one.
2. A container according to claim 1 including relea'sable detent means between said sleeve and said collar at predetermined angular intervals to mark the increments of collar rotation necessary for advancing said sleeve by a distance equal to the thickness of the tablets which the container is intended to hold.
3. A container according to claim 1 wherein said area of reduced wall thickness has a series of transversely extending ridges spaced apart by distances equal to the thickness of the tablets which the container is intended to hold.
4. A tablet container comprising a tubular enclosure having a longitudinally extending wall area of reduced thickness and having threads formed on its outer surface, a longitudinally extending time-indicating scale mounted upon said enclosure for sliding movement relative thereto in a direction longitudinally of said enclosure, a sleeve engaged over said enclosure and said scale for sliding movement relative to both said scale and said enclosure, said sleeve having a projection extending into contact with and press against a point of said area of reduced wall thickness and in this manner retain a tablet within said enclosure, an internally threaded collar threadably engaged over said enclosure adjacent said sleeve to advance upon rotation, said sleeve in a direction longitudinally of said enclosure to a different calibration on said scale and at the same time cause its projection to release a tablet and effect retention of another one.
5. A container according to claim 4, wherein said scale is mounted above said area of reduced thickness and has a longitudinally extending slot exposing said area.
6. A container according to claim 4, wherein said area of reduced wall thickness has a series of transversely extending, equi-spaced ridges and said projection is of sufficient length, axially of said enclosure, to span two consecutive ones of said ridges.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,112,046 11/1963 Szekely 2212 3,227,127 1/1966 Gayle 221-2 X 3,270,915 9/1966 Auer 221--2 STANLEY H. TOLLBERG, Primary Examiner.