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This application claims priority under 35 USC 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/704,749, filed on Aug. 2, 2005.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to a convertible child-resistant cap for use on prescription bottles. In particular, the invention relates to a cap that has a child-resistant side and a non-child-resistant side, so that the user can choose the type of cap to seal a prescription bottle.
2. The Prior Art
Prescription bottles are usually closed with caps that are child-resistant. In order to open such a bottle the user, must simultaneously press down and turn the cap, to release the threads on the cap from the bottle. However, for many people, especially those with muscle impairment or arthritis, this maneuver is very difficult. Thus, non-child resistant caps have been made, which slide off of the bottle and do not require any turning action. However, these caps are not automatically placed on the bottles by the pharmacy, and the consumer must often specially request such non-child-resistant caps.
There have been some attempts to devise a convertible cap, which can be switched from child-resistant to non-child resistant by the user. One example of a type of convertible cap is shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,446,823 and 6,523,709 to Miceli. Another is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,579,934 to Buono.
It is an object of the invention to provide a convertible child-resistant cap having a non-child resistant side and a child-resistant side, both of which can be used with the same vial.
It is another object of the invention to provide a convertible child-resistant cap that can be used on a vial having locking lugs around its external periphery, rather than a screw connection.
These and other objects are accomplished according to the invention by a convertible child-resistant cap for sealing a vial, comprising an external housing having a top and a side wall extending circumferentially around the top and extending from the side wall. The top has an exterior surface and an interior surface and the side wall has an interior surface, an exterior surface and a bottom edge. There is at least one channel running around a periphery of the top surface of the top. The cap has a plurality of detents disposed around the interior surface the side wall adjacent said bottom edge. There is an insert disposed in the housing and held within the housing by the detents. The insert has a circumferential ridge disposed a set distance from the detents. The vial has a set of locking lugs disposed circumferentially around an exterior of its side wall, near the top edge.
The cap is lockable on the vial, in a child-resistant position by placing the cap on the vial with the bottom edge of the side wall of the cap facing the vial, and turning the cap so that the detents engage the locking lugs. The cap is held in this position by the insert in the cap, which exerts downward pressure on the vial and prevents inadvertent release of the cap from the vial. The rib on the insert rests snugly against the interior wall of the vial and also helps to keep the cap in place. The insert is preferably made of a flexible material, so that the cap can be released by pressing the cap and turning it to release the detents from the locking lugs. The insert bends upward under pressure and allows the vial to press further inward into the cap during this procedure. The insert has a spacer that abuts the interior surface of the top of the cap, to keep the insert mounted a fixed distance from the top of the cap.
The cap is also adapted for closing the vial in a non-child-resistant position by placing the cap on the vial with the top surface of the top facing the vial and pressing the cap onto the vial so that a top edge of the vial inserts into the channel. The cap can be removed by simply pulling the cap off of the vial. The non-child resistant position is useful for people who have difficulty grasping and turning caps, such as people with arthritis in their hands.
The vial preferably has a rib running circumferentially around an interior surface near the top of the vial. The channel in the cap snaps over the rib when the cap is placed on the vial in the non-child-resistant position, so that the rib retains the cap on the vial and prevents inadvertent sliding of the cap off of the vial.
The outside of the cap preferably ribbed to allow for easier gripping of the cap during the turning process.
There are preferably two channels in the top surface of the top of the cap. The channels run concentrically and immediately adjacent to each other, and separated by a flexible circumferential wall. This allows the wall to flex and allow the cap to be more easily placed on and removed from the vial in the non-child resistant position, while allowing the channel that fits over the vial to be made as small as possible to fit snugly onto the vial. The wall flexes during the placement and removal operations to allow the cap to be snapped over the rib in the side wall of the vial.
There is preferably a lifting tab disposed along the bottom edge of the side wall of the cap and extending outward from said side wall of the cap. This lifting tab allows the user to remove the cap from the vial when the cap is in the non-child-resistant position by pressing upward on the lifting tab to lift the cap off of the vial.
In a preferred embodiment, there are eight detents on the cap and eight locking lugs on the vial. However, other numbers of detents and locking lugs could also be used.
Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed as an illustration only and not as a definition of the limits of the invention.
In the drawings, wherein similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the cap, showing the underside of the child-resistant side;
FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the cap, showing the child-resistant mechanism;
FIG. 3 is a top view of the cap, showing the non-child-resistant mechanism;
FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the cap with the insert removed;
FIG. 5 is a side view of the insert;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the vial;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the cap on the vial in a child-resistant arrangement; and
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the cap on the vial in the non-child resistant arrangement.
Referring now in detail to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of cap 10 according to the invention. Cap 10 comprises an external housing 11 having a top 12 and a side wall 13. Side wall 13 has a bottom edge around which a series of detents 14 are arranged. Detents 14 extend toward the interior of housing 11. Extending outward from the bottom edge of side wall 13 is a lifting ledge 19, which allows cap 10 to be lifted off of a vial in a non-child-resistant form, which is discussed below.
As shown in FIG. 3, the top surface of top 12 of cap 10 has two channels 16, 18, separated by a flexible side wall 17. Outer channel 16 forms a groove into which the top edge of a vial is inserted to seal the vial in a non-child-resistant manner. Flexible side wall 17 and interior channel 18 form a resilient structure that allows channel 16 to be made as small as possible to keep the cap on the vial, while allowing expansion to slide cap 10 onto the vial.
The underside of cap 10 is shown in FIG. 4. In the interior of cap 10, in the cavity formed by top 12 and side wall 13, there is placed an insert 20. Insert 20 is formed from a flexible material that is held in place by detents 14. Insert 20 has a rib 21 that extends around a circumference of insert 20 and extends away from top 12. On the opposite side of insert 20 is an upwardly extending side wall 22, which fits into a cavity 38 of housing 11 when insert 20 is placed inside housing 11. Wall 22 prevents insert 20 from sliding toward top 12.
FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of a vial 30 that can be used with cap 10 to form a convertible child-resistant/non-child-resistant container for prescription medications. Vial 30 has a series of locking lugs 32 disposed around an outer circumference near top edge 31 of vial 30. Locking lugs 32 have a bayonet portion 33 and a resting indentation 34, to allow detents 14 from cap 10 to be engaged.
As shown in FIG. 7, which illustrates the child-resistant arrangement of cap 10 and vial 30, detents 14 slide over bayonet portion 33 and come to rest in indent 34 when cap 10 is placed on vial 30 and twisted clockwise. Cap 10 in the locked position is shown in FIG. 7. To remove cap 10, the user must first press cap 10 downward, which causes top edge 31 of vial 30 to press into insert 20, forcing it upward and allowing detent 14 to clear bayonet portion 33. Once bayonet portion 33 is cleared, cap 10 can be then rotated until detent 14 is free from locking lug 32 and can then be removed.
FIG. 8 shows cap 10 on vial 30 in a non-child-resistant arrangement. In this arrangement, top edge 31 of vial 30 is inserted into outer channel 16 of cap 10, until edge 31 is fully inserted into channel 16. At this point, rib 35 snaps into channel 16 and keeps cap 10 engaged on vial 30 from the lateral pressure of rib 35 against channel 16, to prevent inadvertent sliding off of cap 10. In order to remove cap 10, the user presses upward on tab 19, sufficiently to allow cap 10 to be released from vial 30.
Thus, cap 10 can be placed on vial 30 in to different arrangements, either child-resistant, or non-child resistant. The user can choose the arrangement after purchase, and thus the need for the pharmacist to carry several different types of caps is eliminated.
Accordingly, while only a few embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it is obvious that many changes and modifications may be made thereunto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.