US 3410450 A
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V 1968 J. A. FORTENBERRY 3,410,450
SANITARY PILL DISPENSER WITH INDICATOR Filed June 16, 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 FIG. 1. 76.2. FIG. 5.
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BY v I Nov. 12, 1968 J. A. FORTENBERRY 3,410,450
SANITARY PILLDISPENSER WITH INDICATOR 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed June 16, 1967 FIG-11.
IN VEN TOR. uaee Y 4. F06 TEA/BEBE $1 I 4 7' roe/v5 Y8.
. VI/ 02/1 /440 ,flll mw United States Patent i 3,410,450 SANITARY PILL DISPENSER WITH INDICATOR Jerry A. Fortenberry, 935 N. Main St., Columbia, Miss. 39421 Filed June 16, 1967, Ser. No. 646,625 Claims. (Cl. 221-7) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A sanitary pill container and dispenser with indicator comprising a small fiat receptacle whose interior is partitioned to define a spiral chamber, a tape bearing pills at spaced intervals disposed in said spiral chamber and having one end secured to a spindle, an external operating knob connected to said spindle for winding the tape to successively move the pills thereon toward a release position and a dispensing aperture, and an indicator dial operatively connected to the tape to indicate the release of each successive pill. In one embodiment, the spiral tape is provided with upstanding flaps which together with the walls of the spiral chamber define individual pill holding compartments along the tape. In a second embodiment, the tape is formed of superimposed strips sealed together at spaced intervals to define pill holding compartments between the strips, and the pills are released by separating the strips by operation of the external knob.
This invention relates to a pill dispenser and in particular to a pill dispenser having means for indicating the removal of each pill, the pills being retained in a sanitary manner within the dispenser on a spiral tape.
The term pill as used herein is defined as including tablets, lozenges, capsules, and all medications in solid capsulated form.
Conventionally, solid form medications are packaged in bottles, or containers, which provide no indication as to when the medication was last taken and when it should be taken again. Nor do such containers permit the removal of a single or prescribed number of pills without danger of contaminating the remaining pills in the container. Furthermore, such containers are usually bulky and unsuitable for carrying on the person of the user.
It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a pill dispenser which will obviate the above briefly outlined disadvantages of conventional pill containers and dispensers.
It is an important object of the invention to provide a pill dispenser in the form of a small flat container which may be readily carried because of its convenient shape and small volume, and which contains a suitable number of pills to last for at least a week, and preferably longer, said pills being carried by a spiral tape in a sanitary, sealed manner within the container, and means being provided for releasing and dispensing one, or a prescribed number, of the pills at indicated time intervals.
Another important object of the invention is to provide a pill container, having the above described characteristics, which incorporates an indicator dial to signal the release of each pill and also when the prescribed interval will elapse before the next pill should be taken.
A further object of the invention is to provide a pill dispenser, having the above described characteristics, in which each capsule, tablet or pill is sealed within a plastic ribbon formed of a double layer, means being provided for separating the layers to release the capsules in specified quantity while the remaining pills are retained between the layers, in sanitary condition, and without danger ice of contact by the users hands, both the dispenser housing and ribbon providing protection against entrance of moisture, bcateria or fungi that may be present in the atmosphere.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a pill dispenser, having the above described characteristics, in which the supply of pills may be renewed by opening the two-part container, removing the original pill-carrying plastic ribbon, and refilling the container with a spiral ribbon having a new supply of pills.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide a pill dispenser, having the above described characteristics, in which the indicator for revealing the time a pill was last dispensed and the time for dispensing and taking the next pill is operatively connected to the pill-carrying tape to move automatically in proper ratio therewith so as to accurately measure the linear tape movement required to dispense one or a prescribed number of pills.
A still further object of the invention is to provide a pill dispenser, having the above described characteristics, which is of simple construction, easy and economical to fabricate, and easy to use.
The novel features that are considered characteristic of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, itself, however, both as to its organization and its method of operation, together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will best be understood from the folowing description of specific embodiments when read in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference characters indicate like parts throughout the several figures and in which:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a pill dispenser with indicator according to the invention;
FIG. 2 is a side elevation of the pill dispenser illustrated in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the pill dispenser with the cover removed and the dispensing opening closure shown in section;
FIG. 4 is a vertical section taken on line 44 of FIG. 1 and looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary enlarged view showing a portion of the pill-carrying tape and its take-up spindle, the operating knob and indicator dial associated there- With being shown in section;
FIG. 6 is an elevational view taken on line 6-6 of FIG. 5, looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary plan view showing a modification of the operator knob and indicator dial;
FIG. 8 is an enlarged elevation similar to FIG. 5, but showing the modification of FIG. 7;
FIG. 9 is a plan view of another embodiment of the pill dispenser;
FIG. 10 is a side elevation of the dispenser of FIG. 9;
FIG. 11 is a plan view of FIG. 9 with the cover and associated elements removed;
FIG. 12 is a sectional view taken on line 1212 of FIG. 9 looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 13 is a sectional view taken on line 13-13 of FIG. 12 looking in the direction of the arrows; and
FIG. 14 is a plan view partially broken away of the pill-carrying tape only as utilized in the FIG. 9 embodiment.
Referring now more particularly to the drawings, the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-6 comprises a pill dispenser generally indicated at 10 formed of a base 12 and a cover 14 having upstanding rims 16, 18 respectively, which are partially nested and separably interengaged by a peripheral tongue 20 on the cover fitting in a complementary groove 22 of the base, to define a shallow enclosure. The base and cover are preferably formed of plastic, but may be formed of metal, or other suitable material, having sufficient resiliency to enable the slight deformation necessary to fasten or unfasten the parts by means of said interengaging tongue and groove. Both the base and cover have fiat sides 24, 26 generally of disc shape, and one of said members, the base as illustrated, is provided with an upstanding partition wall 28 which extends to the inner surface of the flat cover and forms a spiral compartment 30 within the casing enclosure. The disc-like, fiat walls 24, 26 of the base and cover are extended downwardly to form rectangular continuations 32, 34 and the base is provided with another partition wall 36 so as to form in the lower part of the enclosure 2. take-up compartment 38 and a release compartment 40, the first being of suitable size to receive the full length of a pill-carrying tape to be described, and the second defining a chamber to receive a pill released from the tape at a release position 42 thereabove. A dispensing opening 44 is provided in each of the base and cover portions 32, 34, and this is closed by a scoop-shaped closure 46 hinged at 48.
A tape 50 formed of any suitable plastic material is disposed within the spiral compartment 30 formed by the partition wall 28, the tape being of a width slightly less than the distance between the flat walls of the base and cover, and lying along the partition wall in convolutions extending from a central point to the take-up chamber 38. The tape is provided with longitudinally spaced feed apertures 52, preferably along both sides, and has a plurality of longitudinally spaced, preferably integral, upstanding flaps 54 extending from the tape a distance nearly equal to the distance between the convolutions of said spiral partition wall 28. Thus, the tape together with each pair of adjacent flaps form three walls for each of a series of pill-holding compartments 56, the other three walls of each compartment being formed by the spiral partition wall 28 and the flat sides 24, 26 of the base and cover. Pills loosely seated in the compartment 56 are shown in broken lines at 58, FIGS. 3 and 5.
A take-up spindle 60 is journaled in apertures in the opposed sidewalls of the base and cover so as to be re volvable centrally in the take-up chamber 38. Near the journals and within the container the spindle is provided with sprocket teeth 62 which fiit in the feed apertures 52 of the tape to guide and move the tape as it is being Wound on the spindle. A slot 64 is provided in the spindle to frictionally receive the outer end of the tape for fastening the tape thereto. Prior to fastening, the tape is guided over a rod 66 integrally formed on the base and which ensures that the tape will register its feed apertures with the sprocket teeth 68 on a second spindle 70 which is journaled across the interior of the container 10 at the entrance to the take-up chamber 38. Said second spindle protrudes through the cover where it is secured to a gear 72 meshing with the integral ring gear 74 of an indicator dial 76. The take-up spindle 60 also protrudes through the cover 14, and has two spiral spring arms 78, which are outwardly crooked and lockingly seated in a pair of internal key grooves in the knob 80. Manual turning of the knob will thus turn the take-up spindle and wind the tape.
The indicator dial 76 is formed with a central aperture 82 which is journaled on the inner portion of the knob 84 behind flange 86 and permits the dial to rotate independently of the knob through turning movements imparted by the indicator spindle 70. On the face of the indicator dial are a plurality of indioia 88, those illustrated representing the days of the week, however, it will be understood that other periods of time such as hours, may equally well be used.
As the tape 50 extends over the release chamber 40 just prior to entering the take-up chamber, the rims 16, 18 of the base and cover are omitted adjacent the dispensing opening 44, so that pills in the tape compartments 58 are free to fall into the release chamber. This area, therefore, represents a release position 42 toward which the entire length of tape moves as it is being wound on the take-up spindle. Pills may be removed from the release chamber through the dispensing aperture 44, which is normally closed by the cover 46 which is shaped to conform to and surround the walls of the release chamber 40. The closure'46 is hinged on pin 48 so that it may be swung from its closed condition illustrated in FIG. 1, to its open condition illustrated in broken lines in FIG. 3.
The use and operation of the device described above is clarified as follows. It is contemplated that drug firms manufacturing the medication would package the pills in the described container, it being necessary merely to order the container in two parts and the tape of proper length, assemble the tape in the base of the container, and load the pills into the separate compartments 56, thereafter applying the cover to close the container. The packaged pills would then be made available for sale through retailers to prospective purchasers. Alternatively, a druggist, in filling a prescription and having the empty containers on hand already loaded with the tape, would merely separate the casing parts, place the prescribed number of pills in the compartments, close the cover, and deliver the package to the purchaser.
In using the device the purchaser merely turns the knob until the indicator dial moves from one indicating letter to the next letter as measured against the index 90, which means that the tape has moved the length of one compartment 56 and has released a pill therein into the receiving chamber 40 where it is seated in the scoopshaped closure 46. The user then presses against the tip 92 of the closure to pivot the same away from the container which will deposit the pill from the closure into his hand ready to take. The container may then be placed aside until the prescribed time interval has passed when the next pill is to be 'taken which, in the illustrated 'example, is the next day, at which time the knob 80 is again moved and the process repeated for releasing a single pill from the tape and the container. This process is repeated until the container is empty at which time the same container may be refilled by prescription, or another container with the same medication may be purchased.
It will be noted that as the tape is wound on the takeup spindle 60, the successive flaps 54 will bend and become incorporated between tape layers on the spindle. The winding diameter will thus gradually increase so that the angular rotation of the knob 80 necessary to release one or more pills in one compartment 56 will decrease as the pills are successively released from the tape compartments. However, since the indicator dial through gearing 72, 74 turns directly in proportion to the lineal movement of the tape, the spacing of sprocket teeth 68 being equal to the spacing between tape feed apertures 52, the user may be guided by the angular movement of the indicator dial to determine when a proper dosage is released.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate a modified version of the control knob and indicator dial in which the latter is spaced from the former, rather than being journaled on the same. In this modification the dial 76' is a simple disc fixed to the spindle 70 and the control knob 80' is shortened and secured to the take-up spindle 60, leaving a space 94 between its inner surface and the cover wall 26. Thus, a gearing connection between the second spindle and the indicator dial is unnecessary, and rotation of the control knob will still turn the indicator dial by reason of the engagement of the sprocket teeth 68 with the feed apertures of the moving tape.
A preferred embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 9-14 is similar to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 16, except as explained hereinafter. The container 10 is again formed of a rimmed base member 12' and a rimmed cover 14' both of which are rectangular rather than circular in shape. The cover and base are held to gether by interengagement of the tongue and groove 22' extending completely around their rim peripheries. The base is provided with the spiral partition 28 integrally molded thereto just as in the previously described embodiment, but disposed in the compartment formed thereby is a different tape 50 composed of two superimposed strips 96, 98 best shown in FIG. 14. The two plastic strips are heat fused or otherwise adhered together along spaced transverse lines indicated at 100 to form a series of compartments 102 between the strips in which the pills 56 are frictionally retained. If desired, the side edges of both strips outside, or inside the feed apertures 52 may also be adhered together to completely seal each compartment. However, this is not essential as once loaded between the strips the pills are retained therein by the pressure of the overlying strips and when the tape is placed in the spiral compartment 30, and the cover applied to the base, it is impossible for the pills to fall out of their separate tape compartments.
At its outer end the tape 50is separated into its two component strips, each being guided against and between a pair of rigid circular posts 103 molded to the base member and then threaded in the slots 64 of a pair of takeup spindles 60 identical with spindle 60 of FIG. 5. The forked spring clamps 78 of the take-up spindles are keyed in receiving slots in the bores of a pair of pinion gears 104 which mesh with a ring gear 106 on the internal surface of the control knob 80". The control knob, itself, is keyed at 78 to a stub shaft 108 which is journaled to rotate in an aperture 110 in the cover 14'. The stub shaft is retained in proper axial location with respect to the cover by flange 112 seated against the undersurface ofthe cover and a split washer 114 carried in a groove on the shaft and seated on the upper surface of the cover.
It will be apparent from FIG. 13 that rotation of the knob 80" in one direction will rotate both pinion gears 104 in the same direction and accordingly, both take-up spindles 60 will be rotated to wind the separate strips 96, 98 thereon. Such winding action succesively opens the compartments 102 of tape 50 by breaking the ad hesions at the transverse portions 100 of the double tape, and successively releases a pill from each compartment at the release position 42 between posts 104, FIG. 11. The released pills fall by gravity into a receiving chamber 40 defined by the base and the cover between the pair of walls 116 integrally formed on the base. An access or dispensing opening 44' is provided in the cover through which the' pills released from the tape into the receiving chamber can be removed from the con tainer.
The indicating spindle 70 and indicating dial 76 are positioned slightly above the guide rods 116 and away from the control knob 80" and accordingly, these indicating elements may be identical with the corresponding elements illustrated in FIG. 7.
It will be apparent that the embodiment of FIGS. 9-14 is operated in exactly the same manner as the embodiment of FIGS. 1-6. To dispense a pill, knob 80 is turned until the indicator dial 76 indexes to the next indicated time for taking a pill. Turning of said knob serves to wind the two strips of the double tape separately on the pair of take-up spindles and to thereby successively open each pill-holding compartment in the tape.
It is contemplated in carrying out the invention, that the pill-carrying tapes, and for that matter the plastic casings housing the tapes, may well be color coded to identify the type of drug, or pill, carried therein, for example; red for heart medicine, yellow for diabetic pills, etc. By adoption of a uniform color code the contents of the tapes and dispenser casings may be more readily identified, thereby increasing the efficiency and utility of the described invention.
Although certain specific embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it is obvious that many modifications thereof are possible. The invention, therefore, is not to be restricted except insofar as is necessitated by the prior art and by the spirit of the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A pill dispensing container comprising a base member and a cover member each having an upstanding rim with separable interengaging means securing said members together to define a shallow enclosure, one of said members having an upstanding partition Wall defining a spiral compartment within the enclosure, a pill-carrying strip of flexible tape disposed along said spiral compartment, said tape having longitudinally spaced tape feed apertures, means on said tape for holding a plurality of pills in spaced relation until the tape is moved to align a pill with a release position, a take-up spindle within said housing, one end of said tape being engaged on said take-up spindle, an external manipulator means connected to said spindle for winding the tape on the spindle, and a dispensing opening in one of said members for passage of a pill from the container when released from the tape by winding thereof past said release position.
2. A pill container according to claim 1 in combination with an indicator, said indicator comprising a second spindle journaled to revolve within said housing and having spaced sprocket teeth engaging said tape feed apertures, a gear secured to said second spindle and a dial bearing indicia moved by said gear in accordance with the winding motion of said tape.
3. The combination set forth in claim 2 wherein said manipulator means comprises a knob, said dial being centrally apertured to receive an inner portion of said knob as a journal, and said dial having peripheral internally directed, ring teeth engaged by said gear.
4. A pill container according to claim 1 wherein said tape comprises a pair of superimposed strips adhered to one another at spaced transverse portions thereof to define separate pill-holding compartments, said strips at said one end of said tape being individually secured to a pair of take-up spindles, and said manipulator means being operatively connected to move both spindles thereby separating the two strips to release pills from said pillholding compartments.
5. A pill container according to claim 4 wherein each of said pair of take-up spindles has a portion protruding outside the housing and to which is secured a gear, said manipulator means being a knob having a circular flange surrounding said pair of gears whose inner surface is provided with teeth meshing with said gears, whereby turning of the knob will turn both of said pair of spindles simultaneously to separate the tape strips.
6. A pill container according to claim 1 wherein a cover for said dispensing opening is provided outside said container and pivoted thereto, said cover being swingable from a position closing the dispensing opening to a position yielding access to the dispensing opening for removing a pill therethrough.
7. A pill container according to claim 1 wherein said means on said tape for holding a plurality of pills comprises a series of longitudinally spaced transverse flaps on said tape and upstanding therefrom.
8. A pill container according to claim 7 wherein said flaps on said tape cooperate with said spiral partition wall and said base and cover members to define a spirally disposed series of pill-holding compartments each having six walls for completely enclosing a pill.
9. A pill container according to claim 1 wherein said base and cover members are flat, one of said members having an upstanding barrier Wall dividing the enclosure portion other than the spiral compartment into a tape receiving compartment housing the take-up spindle and an adjacent pill receiving chamber.
10. A pill container according to claim 9 wherein said spiral compartment terminates near the upper end of said 7 8 pill receiving compartment at a point constituting said re- 2,261,910 11/1941 Wright 221-75 lease position, and said tape passes said release point and 3,047,347 7/1962 Groves 221-7 over said pill receiving compartment to the take-up 3,227,127 1/ 1966 Gayle 221-2 spindle in said tape receiving compartment. 3,367,535 2/ 1968 Tanguay 22171 5 References Cited FOREIGN PATENTS UNITED STATES PATENTS 337,829 12/1903 France.
1,240,526 9/1917 Ziebarth 221 7 2,139,886 12/1938 Drachenberg 221 2 WALTER Examme"