Title:
BLISTER CARD CARRIER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A blister card carrier and methods of inserting and removing a blister card from the blister card carrier are disclosed. The blister card carrier is designed to hold a blister card in a substantially planar state. The blister card carrier may include a bottom section having a plurality of bottom rails, and a top section having a plurality of top rails. The bottom section and the top section may from one or more slots configured to receive a blister card. Each slot may be substantially perpendicular to the bottom section and the top section. Each bottom rail may be configured to contact a bottom surface of a received blister card. Each top rail may be configured to contact a top surface of a received blister card. The blister card carrier may be configured to position a received blister card in substantially the same plane as the bottom and top section.



Inventors:
Bossi, Christopher E. (Altoona, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/557991
Publication Date:
05/15/2008
Filing Date:
11/09/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/461
International Classes:
B65D73/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VEDDER PRICE P.C. (222 N. LASALLE STREET, CHICAGO, IL, 60601, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A blister card carrier designed to hold a blister card in a substantially planar state, the carrier comprising: a bottom section having one or more bottom rails; and a top section having one or more top rails, wherein the bottom section and the top section form one or more slots configured to receive a blister card, wherein each slot is substantially perpendicular to the bottom section and the top section, wherein each bottom rail is configured to contact a bottom surface of a received blister card, wherein each top rail is configured to contact a top surface of a received blister card, and wherein the blister card carrier is configured to position a received blister card in substantially the same plane as the bottom section and the top section.

2. The blister card carrier of claim 1 wherein at least one of a bottom rail and the top rail comprises a holding mechanism, and wherein the holding mechanism is located on a surface of the corresponding rail configured to contact a received blister card.

3. The blister card carrier of claim 2 wherein the holding mechanism is operable to conform a received blister card into a substantially planar state.

4. The blister card carrier of claim 2 wherein the holding mechanism is operable to create an interference fit with a received blister card.

5. The blister card carrier of claim 4 wherein the interference fit causes the received blister card to be held in a fixed position if no force is applied to remove the received blister card from the blister card carrier.

6. The blister card carrier of claim 2 wherein the holding mechanism comprises one or more of the following: a spring; a protuberance; and a chamfered edge.

7. The blister card carrier of claim 1, further comprising: an insertion point; and a holding mechanism, wherein the holding mechanism is operable to removably affix the received blister card when inserted through the insertion point.

8. A method of inserting a blister card into a blister card carrier, the method comprising: positioning a blister card in a slot of a blister card carrier; placing an implement in contact with the blister card; applying a force to the blister card using the implement, wherein the force movers the blister card into the blister card carrier; detecting a mark on the blister card using a detecting element; and removing the force from the blister card at a time determined based on the time that the mark is detected at a predefined location.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein the implement comprises a pin.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein placing the implement comprises placing the pin in a pin slot of the blister card.

11. The method of claim 9 wherein placing the implement comprises placing the pin in contact with a trailing edge of the blister card.

12. The method of claim 8 wherein the implement comprises a wheel.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein placing the implement comprises placing the wheel on one of a top surface of the blister card and a bottom surface of the blister card.

14. The method of claim 8 wherein the mark comprises one or more of the following: a bar code; a bar code label; a dot; an indentation; and a hole.

15. The method of claim 8 wherein the detecting element comprises one or more of the following: a bar code scanner; a sensor; and a mechanical switch.

16. The method of claim 8, further comprising: automatically determining a location of a blister within the blister card based on the location of the mark.

17. The method of claim 8, further comprising: guiding the blister card using one or more chamfered edges, wherein each chamfered edge is formed using one or more of a bottom rail of the blister card carrier and a top rail of the blister card carrier.

Description:

F. BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

The disclosed embodiment generally relate to the fields of medicament storage and dispensing. More particularly, the disclosed embodiments relate to carriers for packages containing medicaments.

2. Background

Medicaments are stored in a variety of package for delivery to a patient. For example, amber pill bottles are conventionally used to dispense prescription medications by pharmacists. Non-prescription medications are commonly delivered loose in containers or in individual blisters. However, determining patient compliance with medicaments provided in such packaging can not be performed unless such medicaments are directly provided to the patient by a health care professional.

More recently, medicaments have been delivered in blister cards, such as are described in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/366,295 to Caracciolo et al., which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirely. Such blister cards can enable more precise inventorying of medicaments. In addition, such blister cards can enable auditing of patient compliance with a dosing schedule or instructions from a health care professional by using bar codes or other identifying indicia for each blister and/or blister card instead of merely dispensing such medicaments in lot. Other advantages can also result over the use of conventional medicament packages.

Blister cards are typically manufactured from flexible materials, such as cardboard, metal foil and/or plastic. Such materials are typically used to reduce manufacturing costs. As part of the manufacturing process, blister cards are often subjected to a heat sealing process in order to seal appropriate medicaments within each blister. The heat sealing process, human and/or machine handling, and/or other environmental or manufacturing factors can cause a blister card to wrap, twist and/or otherwise become distorted. Such distortion can cause delivery errors when using an automated delivery system, such as the one described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/013,010 to Bogash et al., which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, to remove medicaments from the blister card. In addition, errors in identifying a medicament can result if a label cannot be properly examined by such an automated system.

Accordingly, what is needed is an apparatus configured to hold a blister card in a substantially uniform position that enables medicaments to be removed from the blister card by, for example, an automated dispensing system.

A need exists for an apparatus configured to hold a blister card in a substantially uniform position that permits automated identification of individual medicaments contained within the blister card.

A need exists for a method of inserting a blister card into a blister card carrying apparatus using a reference mark.

A need exists for a method of removing a blister card from the blister car carrying apparatus.

A further need exists for a method of identifying the location of a blister containing a medicament based on the location of the blister with respect to a reference mark.

The present disclosure is directed to solving one or more of the above-listed problems.

G. SUMMARY

Before the present methods, systems and materials are described, it is to be understood that this disclosure is not limited to the particular methodologies, systems and materials described, as these may vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used in the description is for the purpose of describing the particular versions or embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope.

It must also noted that as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to a “medicament” is a reference to one or more medicaments and equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art, and so forth. Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meanings as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. Although any methods, materials, and devices similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of embodiments, the preferred methods, materials, and devices are now described. All publications mentioned herein are incorporated by reference. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the embodiment described herein are not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior invention.

In an embodiment, a blister card carrier designed to hold a blister card in a substantially planar state may include a bottom section having one or more bottom rails, and a top section having one or more top rails. The bottom section and the top section may form one or more slots configured to receive a blister car. Each slot may be substantially perpendicular to the bottom section and the top section. Each bottom rail may be configured to contact a bottom surface of a received blister card. Each top rail may be configured to contact a top surface of a received blister card. The blister card carrier may by configured to position a received blister card in substantially the same plane as the bottom section and the top section.

In an embodiment, a method of inserting a blister card into a blister card carrier may include positioning a blister card in a slot of a blister car carrier, placing an implement in contact with the blister card, applying a force to the blister card that moves the blister card into the blister card carrier using the implement, detecting a mark on the blister card using a detecting element, and removing the force force from the blister card at a time determined based on the time that the mark is detected at a predefined location.

H. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Aspects, features, benefits and advantages of the embodiments described herein will be apparent with regard to the following description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary blister card carrier according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2 depicts a flow diagram of an exemplary method of inserting a blister card into a blister card carrier according to an embodiment.

FIGS. 3A and 3B depicts exemplary holding mechanisms for a blister card carrier designed to create an interference fit between the blister card carrier and a blister card according to an embodiment.

I. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As used herein, a “medicament” includes one or more of an individual, unit-of-issue dose of prescription and/or non-prescription medications, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, injectibles, medical devices, diagnostic materials and other therapeutic products. A medicament may, where applicable, be in liquid, solid or gaseous form. Specific examples of medicaments include, without limitation, suppositories, pre-filled syringes, inhalers, lotions, suspensions, blood testing strips, pills, tablets and caplets.

FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary blister card carrier according to an embodiment, As shown in FIG. 1, the blister card carrier 100 may be used to hold a blister card in a substantially uniform position. The blister card carrier 100 may include a bottom section 110 having a plurality of bottom rails, such as 115, a top section 120 having a plurality of top rails, such as 125, and one ore more side sections, such as 130, used to connect the top sections and the bottom section. In an embodiment, a blister card may be positioned between the bottom section 110 and the top section 120 upon insertion. Each of the bottom rails 115 and top rails 125 may be used to support a blister card upon insertion into the blister card carrier 100. In an embodiments, a blister card may be positioned substantially in a plane that is approximately or completely parallel to each of the bottom section 110 and the top section 120.

A slot 135 may be positioned between the bottom section 110 and the top section 120 on at least one side of the blister card carrier 100. The slot 135 may be used, for example, to receive a blister card during an insertion process. In an embodiment, a second slot (not shown) may be located on an opposing side of the blister card carrier 100 from slot 135.

In an embodiment, the blister card carrier 100 may include one or more holes 140 on at least one side of the blister card carrier. The holes 140 may be used to determine the location of the blister card carrier 100 when the blister card carrier is inserted into a storage unit (not shown). In an embodiment, the storage unit may include a sensor (not shown), such as an optical interrupt sensor. A light emitting diode (not shown) may emit light on one side of the storage unit. Then a hole 140 is coincident with the beam, the sensor may sense the beam. As such, the location of the blister card carrier 100 may be determined in this manner. Properly determining the location of the blister card carrier 100 within the storage unit be required in order to properly remove blister or medicaments from the blister card. Other methods of determining the location of the blister card carrier 100 within a storage unit are possible and will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art based on this disclosure.

in an embodiment, the blister card carrier may include at lest one holding mechanism insertion point 145 on an edge of the blister card carrier that is opposite slot 135. The holding mechanism insertion point 145 may receive, for example and without limitation, a holding mechanism 150, such as, without limitation, a pin or a dowel, when a blister card has been completely inserted into the blister card carrier 100.

FIG. 2 depicts a flow diagram of an exemplary method of inserting a blister card into a blister card carrier according to an embodiment. As shown in FIG. 2, the blister card may be positioned 205 at the slot 135 of the blister card carrier 100. Alternately, the blister card card may be positioned 205 at the second slot of the blister card carrier 100.

An implement (not shown), such as a pin, may be positioned 210 in contact with the blister card. For example, a blister card may include a pin slot (155 in FIG. 1)in which the pin is positioned. Alternately, the pin may be positioned 210 against the surface and/or an edge of the blister card. In an embodiment, the pin may be controlled by a mechanical mechanism (not shown). The mechanical mechanism may cause the pin to apply 215 a linear force to the blister card in a direction substantially parallel to the bottom rail 115 and the top rails 125 and directed towards the blister card carrier 100. As a result, the blister card may be inserted into the blister card carrier 100. In an embodiment, the implement may include, for example and without limitation, a dowel pin or gear teeth.

In an embodiment, the implement may be include wheel. The wheel(not shown) may be positioned 210 in contact with the blister card on top surface or a bottom surface. The wheel may then be rotated so that force is applied 215 to the blister card. As a result, the blister card may be inserted into the blister card carrier 100.

Alternate implements may also be used to apply 215 a force to a blister card to cause insertion of the blister card into a blister card carrier 100. Such implements will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art based on the teachings of this disclosure.

In an embodiment, a position of the blister card in reference to the blister card carrier 100 (e.g., during or after insertion) may be determined 220, for example, using a mark (not shown) on the blister card. The mark is a portion of a blister card that can be uniquely detected by a detecting element (not shown). For example, the mark may include, without limitation, a bar code, a bar code label, a dot, an indentation, a hole and/or any other marking and/or discernable feature of the blister card. The detecting element may include, for example and without limitation, a bar code scanner, a sensor, a mechanical switch, and/or any other mechanism capable of detecting a particular type of mark. For example, a bar code scanner may be used to scan for a particular bar code and/or bar code label corresponding to a predefined value for the mark. A sensor may include a light sensor that senses when light shines through a hole in the blister card corresponding to the mark. Similarly, a mechanical switch may be in contact with the surface of the blister card and detect when a hole or indentation corresponding to the mark is present. For example, at least a portion of the mechanical switch may enter into the hole or indentation. Alternatively, the indentation may cause the mechanical switch to rise at least a predefined height above the planar surface of the blister card.

In an embodiment where the pin is positioned upon the trailing edge of the blister card, the mark and the detecting element may be the trailing edge of the blister card and the pin, respectively. The trailing edge of the blister card is the edge of the blister card that is perpendicular to the direction of movement and farthest away from the slot 135 (or the second slot) when the force is first applied 215. In such an embodiment, the position of the blister card may be determined, for example, be detecting when the pin contacts the blister card carrier 100. In an embodiment, when the mark is determined to be located at a predefined location in reference to the blister card carrier 100, the mechanical mechanism may cause 225 the pin to stop applying force to the blister card. In an embodiment, when the mark is detected, the mechanical mechanism may continue to cause force to be applied 215 to the blister card via the pin for a predetermined time after the mark is detected at the predefined location. Alternate marks and detecting elements will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art based on the teachings of the present disclosure.

As the blister card is moved into the blister card carrier 100, one or more holding mechanisms residing on one or more of the bottom rails 115 and/or one oar more of the top rails 125 may be used to create an interference fit between the blister card carrier and the surface of the blister card. An interference fit is a fastening between two parts which is achieved by friction after the parts are pushed together. The holding mechanisms may be located on a surface of a bottom rail 115 or a top rail 125 designed to contact a blister card when it has been inserted into the blister card carrier 100. The holding mechanisms may include, for example, and without limitation, a spring, a protuberance (such as 305 in FIG. 3A), a chamfered edge (such as 310 in FIG. 3B). In an alternate embodiment, a holding mechanism, such as 150, may be inserted through a mechanism insertion point, such as 145, as described above in reference to FIG. 1. The one or more holding mechanisms may be designed to hold an inserted blister card in a fixed position after the blister card has been inserted into the blister card carrier 100. In addition, the one or more holding mechanisms may assist in flattening the blister card while the blister card is inserted in the blister card carrier 100. Alternate holding mechanisms will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art based on he teachings of the present disclosure.

A substantially similar process may be performed to remove a blister card from a blister card carrier 100. However, the applied force in such a process may direct the blister card out of the blister card carrier 100 through the slot 135 (or alternately through the second slot). Particular methods for removing a blister card from a blister card carrier 100 will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art based on the teachings of this disclosure.

In an embodiment, once the blister card has been inserted into the blister card carrier 100, a holding mechanism (150 in FIG. 1), such as a pin, may be placed through a holding mechanism insertion point (such as 145 in FIG. 1) and apply force to the blister card in order to hold the blister card in place. The holding mechanism 150 may be operable, when inserted through the holding mechanism insertion point 145, to affix the location of the blister card in relation to the blister card carrier 100 when the blister card has been inserted. The holding mechanism 150 may be removed from the holding mechanism insertion point 145 prior to removing the blister card from the blister card carrier 100.

It will be appreciated that various of the above-disclosed and other features and functions, or alternatives thereof, may be desirably combined into many other different systems or applications. Also that various presently unforeseen or unanticipated alternatives, modifications, variations or improvements therein may be subsequently made by those skilled in the art which are also intended to be encompassed by the following claims.