Title:
CHILD RESISTANT DEVICE FOR HOUSING BLISTER PACKS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for housing blister packs. The container includes first and second portions attached to one another in a manner whereby said first and second portions are movable from an open condition in which products may be dispensed from the container to a closed condition in which products cannot be dispensed from the container. At least the first portion of the container defines an internal space in said container of sufficient size to receive product in said internal space. The container also includes structure for supporting the blister pack in a position whereby product dispensed from said blister pack is dispensed into the internal space in said container and a closure which retains said first and second portions in the closed position. An opening is provided in the first portion in communication with the internal space to permit passage of product through said opening to be dispensed to outside the container at a location which is blocked when the closure is positioned to retain the first and second portions in the closed position. The container provides a secure way to limit access to product in a blister pack while at the same time facilitating dispensing of product from the blister pack and container.



Inventors:
Gherdan, Victor (Cherry Hill, NJ, US)
Fillis, Thomas John (Williamstown, NJ, US)
Barndt, David (Richlandtown, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/693527
Publication Date:
10/02/2008
Filing Date:
03/29/2007
Assignee:
R. P. SCHERER TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (LAS VEGAS, NV, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/289
International Classes:
B65D83/04; B65D41/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHU, KING M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Fitzpatrick Cella (Catalent) (30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY, 10112, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container for a blister pack, the blister pack having a base and deformable blisters projecting from the base for containing a product, said container comprising: first and second portions attached to one another in a manner whereby said first and second portions are movable from an open condition in which products may be dispensed from the container to a closed condition in which products cannot be dispensed from the container, the first portion of the container defining an internal space in said container of sufficient size to receive product in said internal space, a structure for supporting the blister pack in a position whereby product dispensed from said blister pack is dispensed into said internal space in said container, a closure which retains said first and second portions in the closed position, and an opening in said first portion in communication with said internal space, said opening being of sufficient size to permit passage of product through said opening to be dispensed to outside said container at a location which is blocked when said closure is positioned to retain said first and second portions in the closed position.

2. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said closure is child resistant.

3. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said opening extends through a peripheral sidewall of said first portion to outside said first portion.

4. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said opening is also in communication with a passage in said closure such that product is dispensed to outside said container through said passage in said closure.

5. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said structure for supporting the blister pack comprises a shoulder proximate to said internal space.

6. A container as claimed in claim 5, wherein said structure for supporting the blister pack further comprises at least one ridge which divides said internal space into a plurality of internal spaces, and each said internal space is in communication with an opening of sufficient size to permit passage of said product through said each said opening to be dispensed to outside said container.

7. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said structure for supporting the blister pack comprises a plate provided with a plurality of openings therein, said plate being positioned such that dispensing of said product from a blister pack supported on said plate dispenses said product through an opening in said plate into said internal space.

8. A container as claimed in claim 7, wherein said plate is supported by a shoulder proximate to said internal space.

9. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said closure comprises a screw cap, and a threaded protruding member that is attached to said first portion of said container.

10. A container as claimed in claim 9, wherein said opening in said first portion communicates with a passage through said threaded protruding member for dispensing of product to outside said container.

11. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first and second portions of said container are attached to one another by a hinge.

12. A container as claimed in claim 11, wherein said hinge is located on a side of said first and second portions of said container and mating parts of said closure are formed in each of said first and second portions of said container such that when said container is in the closed position, an additional part of said closure may be attached to said mating parts of said closure to retain said container in a closed position.

13. A container as claimed in claim 11, wherein said hinge is located at an edge of said first and second portions and said closure is located opposite the location of said hinge.

14. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said second portion comprises a flange positioned to abut with a part of said closure when said container is in the closed position to retain said container in said closed position.

15. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said internal space is shaped to facilitate direction of product to said opening in communication with said internal space.

16. A container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said second portion of said container defines a second internal space in said container of sufficient size to receive product in said second internal space, said container further comprising: a second structure for supporting the blister pack in a position whereby product dispensed from said blister pack is dispensed into said second internal space in said container, and an opening in said second portion in communication with said second internal space, said opening in said second portion being of sufficient size to permit passage of said product through said opening in said second portion to be dispensed to outside said container at a location which is blocked when said closure is positioned to retain said first and second portions in the closed position.

17. A container as claimed in claim 16, wherein said opening in said second portion extends through a peripheral sidewall of said second portion to outside said second portion.

18. A container as claimed in claim 16, wherein said opening in said second portion is also in communication with a passage in said closure such that product is dispensed to outside said container from said opening in said second portion through said passage in said closure.

19. A container as claimed in claim 16, wherein said second structure for supporting the blister pack comprises a shoulder proximate to said second internal space.

20. A container as claimed in claim 19, wherein said second structure for supporting the blister pack further comprises at least one ridge which divides said second internal space into a plurality of internal spaces in said second portion, and each said internal space in said second portion is in communication with an opening of sufficient size to permit passage of said product through each said opening to be dispensed to outside said container.

21. A container as claimed in claim 16, wherein said second structure for supporting the blister pack comprises a second plate provided with a plurality of openings therein, said second plate being positioned such that dispensing of said product from a blister pack supported on said second plate dispenses said product through an opening in said second plate into said second internal space.

22. A method for dispensing product from a container containing a blister pack having a base and deformable blisters projecting from the base for containing a product, said method comprising the steps of: locating the blister pack in a container at a location whereby dispensing of said product from said blister pack causes said product to enter an internal space in said container, dispensing product from said blister pack into said internal space, positioning said container to cause said product to move in said internal space to an opening in communication with said internal space, and dispensing said product from said container through said opening in communication with said internal space.

23. A method as claimed in claim 22, further comprising the step of opening said container to obtain access to said blister pack prior to said step of dispensing product from said blister pack.

24. A method as claimed in claim 23, wherein said container comprises a closure and said step of opening said container comprises opening said child resistant closure.

25. A method as claimed in claim 24, wherein said step of opening said closure also unblocks an opening in said container through which product is dispensed to outside said container in said step of dispensing product from said container.

26. A method as claimed in claim 25, wherein said container contains at least two blister packs, said method further comprising the step of selecting a blister pack from which product is to be dispensed.

27. A method as claimed in claim 26, wherein each blister pack is associated with a separate internal space in said container and each said internal space is provided with an opening in communication therewith, and wherein said step of opening said closure unblocks at least one opening in said container in communication with each said internal space to permit dispensing of product from said container from each said internal space.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a child resistant device for holding blister packs, and for facilitating dispensing of the contents of the blister packs.

2. Brief Description of the Prior Art

Blister packs have become a popular form of packaging, particularly for medicines. Blister packs typically include a thin resilient sheet, normally of plastic material, in which recesses or “blisters” are formed. All of the blisters face the same side of the sheet. The blisters hold individual products, such as medicines, usually in the form of tablets, capsules or lozenges. A thin layer of foil is typically attached to the thin resilient sheet to cover the open portion of the recesses or blisters to thereby retain the products in the blisters and provide a seal between the resilient sheet and the foil layer which seals the products within the blisters. To dispense product from the blister pack, sufficient force is exerted on the closed side of the blister toward the resilient sheet and foil to cause the product to tear the foil at which point the product can be dispensed out of the blister pack.

It is desirable to store blister packs in some type of outer container, particularly if the blister packs contain products which are dangerous for children. Such outer containers are preferably child resistant to reduce the possibility that a child may obtain access to the contents of the blister pack. Accordingly, a number of devices have been developed for housing blister packs to prevent easy access to the products.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,323,907 (Kalvelage) describes a device in which the blister packs are housed in a frame formed with openings through which the products may be dispensed from the blisters. The openings in the frame are shaped to partially obstruct the passage of the products through the frame. As a result, the frame of this device must be customized to the size of the particular contents of the blister pack.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,838 (Brozell) describes a child-resistant medication compact. The compact is designed to securely engage one edge of a blister pack in a hinged portion of the compact. The blister pack may be locked into place in the compact. The compact has a clam shell design so that it may be closed to prevent access to the blister pack in the closed position. The compact includes a child resistant closure to make it difficult for a child to open the compact and obtain access to the blister pack. Dispensing of product from a blister pack locked into this compact would appear to be awkward since the blister pack would have to be held up away from the surface of the compact to allow the medication to be dispensed.

U.S. Patent application publication number US 2004/0099561 A1 (Christiansen et al.) also discloses apparatus and methods for dispensing of tablets from a blister pack. Again, this device employs a clam shell design for an outer container to house a blister pack. The outer container may be locked to make the container child resistant. However, this device requires a customized blister pack designed to fit into the device in a specific manner since the device indexes the round blister pack to position the tablet to be dispensed at a particular dispensing location.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,338,408 and U.S. Design Pat. No. 411,445 (Anderson) disclose a device for holding blister packs. The device includes first and second members which are movable from an open position to a closed position. In the open position, products can be dispensed from the blister packs. In the closed position, product cannot be dispensed from the blister packs. The blister packs are not removable from the device since they are retained by panels in the device. The members can be retained in their closed position by a child resistant closure. Again, this device relies on the use of a frame having openings therein which must be aligned with the blisters of the blister pack. This requires a special design of the blister pack and the device so that the blister pack is compatible with the device.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,540,081 (Balz et al.) discloses a unit dose blister pack product dispenser. The dispenser includes a housing provided with a plurality of openings therein, a back plate provided with openings therein through which the products are dispensed, and a tray into which the product may be dispensed. The tray includes a conduit at one end through which the product may be dispensed to facilitate product handling. However, this device also relies on a housing with openings therein which must be aligned with the blisters of the blister pack which requires a special design of the blister pack and the housing to ensure that they are compatible.

Accordingly, there is a need for child resistant containers for blister packs which overcome some of the disadvantages of prior art containers. For example, there is a need for child resistant containers for blister packs which can be easily customized to accommodate a variety of different blister packs and/or different sizes of medications.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, the present invention relates to a container for a blister pack. The container includes first and second portions attached to one another in a manner whereby said first and second portions are movable from an open condition in which products may be dispensed from the container to a closed condition in which products cannot be dispensed from the container. The first portion of the container defines an internal space in the container of sufficient size to receive product. The container also includes a structure for supporting the blister pack in a position whereby product dispensed from the blister pack is dispensed into the internal space in the container and a closure which retains the first and second portions in the closed position. An opening is provided in the first portion in communication with the internal space to permit passage of product through the opening to be dispensed to outside the container at a location which is blocked when the closure is positioned to retain the first and second portions in the closed position.

In a second aspect, the present invention relates to a method for dispensing product from a container containing a blister pack. In the method, the blister pack is located in a container at a location whereby dispensing of product from said blister pack causes the product to enter an internal space in the container. Product is then dispensed from the blister pack into the internal space and the container is positioned to cause the product to move in the internal space to an opening in communication with the internal space. Product is then dispensed from the container through the opening in communication with the internal space.

These and other aspects of the invention are described in greater detail with reference to specific embodiments of the invention in the detailed description of the invention which follows.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1(a) depicts a first embodiment of a blister pack container in accordance with the present invention in the fully open position.

FIG. 1(b) depicts the blister pack container of FIG. 1(a) in a partially closed position.

FIG. 1(c) depicts the blister pack container of FIGS. 1(a)-1(b) in the closed position.

FIG. 1(d) is a perspective view of a portion of the blister pack container of FIGS. 1(a)-1(b) in partial cross-section.

FIG. 2(a) depicts a second embodiment of a blister pack container in accordance with the present invention in the open position with the blister pack removed.

FIG. 2(b) depicts the embodiment of the blister pack container of FIG. 2(a) in the closed position.

FIG. 2(c) is a cross-sectional view of the lower portion of the container of FIGS. 2(a)-2(b).

FIG. 2(d) is a perspective view of a variation of the container of FIGS. 2(a)-2(c) in a partially open position.

FIG. 3(a) depicts a third embodiment of a blister pack container in accordance with the present invention in the open position with the blister pack removed.

FIG. 3(b) depicts the embodiment of the blister pack container of FIG. 3(a) in the closed position.

FIG. 4(a) depicts a fourth embodiment of a blister pack container in accordance with the present invention in the open position with the blister pack removed.

FIG. 4(b) depicts the embodiment of the blister pack container of FIG. 4(a) in the closed position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals represent like elements in the several views.

A first embodiment of a blister pack container 10 is depicted in FIGS. 1(a)-1(c). Blister pack container 10 is in the shape of a bottle formed by first and second portions 12, 14 which are attached together via a hinge 16 or other suitable attachment mechanism located along one side thereof. First portion 12 is provided with a protruding member 18 which mates with a protruding member 20 of second portion 14 when container 10 is in the closed position to form a generally circular protruding member. Protruding members 18, 20 are provided with threads 24 on an outer surface thereof onto which a screw cap 22 may be threaded to close container 10. Screw cap 22 may preferably be a conventional child resistant cap which, for example, requires the user to push down on cap 22 while turning cap 22 in order to remove cap 22 from container 10. Threads 24 may be designed to provide this type of child resistant engagement between container 10 and cap 22. Other types of closures may also be employed to accomplish the same functions as the combination of protruding members 18, 20 and cap 22. For example, align and turn caps, squeeze and turn caps and squeeze and lift caps may be employed. Other types of attachment mechanisms which can be employed, include, but are not limited to, living hinges, pin hinges, spinal hinges and ball and socket hinges.

As shown, second portion 14 includes one or more recesses 26 in an interior portion thereof for the purpose of providing space for the blisters of a blister pack 1 when container 10 is in a closed position. Recesses 26 may be provided with a transparent portion 28 so that a user of container 10 may see the contents of blister pack 1 when container 10 is in the closed position in order to allow the user to monitor the contents of blister pack 1 without having to open container 10. In the embodiment shown, second portion 14 also includes a peripheral shoulder 29 which is used to support blister pack 1 above recesses 26. In this embodiment, second portion 14 also includes a central ridge 30 located between recesses 26 for the purpose of providing additional strength to container 10 and to support blister pack 1 between rows of blisters when container 10 is in the closed position. One or both of peripheral shoulder 29 and central ridge 30 may be used to prevent or limit movement of blister pack 1 in a closed container 10 in embodiments of container 10 wherein blister pack 1 is not secured to first portion 12.

One of first and second portions 12, 14 of container 10 may include recesses 26 to provide space for housing a second blister pack in container 10. In one embodiment, container 10 may simply house a second blister pack until it is ready for use at which time the user may transfer it to first portion 12, and container 10 may be used as described below. In this embodiment, it is preferable that transparent portion 28 be located on the portion of container 10 that will be used for dispensing since then the user will be able to see the contents of the blister pack 1 from which product is being dispensed even if a second blister pack is housed in the other portion of container 10.

More preferably, first and second portions 12, 14 may be formed in a similar manner such that container 10 may be used to dispense from two different blister packs 1, one of which is located in first portion 12 and a second of which is located in second portion 14. In this embodiment, container 10 can be provided with two blister packs 1 and there would be no need to move the blister pack from one portion of container 10 to another for dispensing. With careful placement of label 3, it may still be possible to include a transparent portion 28 on both sides of container 10 to allow the user to see at least a portion of the contents of the blister packs 1 when container 10 is in the closed position.

Second portion 14 may also be provided with another recess 32 which can be used to house a folded insert 2 such as a brochure containing information about the product contained in container 10. First portion 12 may include a corresponding recess 34 to provide additional space for folded insert 2 in container 10. One or both of first and second portions 12, 14 of container 10 may be provided with a label 3 on an outer surface thereof, as shown in FIG. 1(c). First or second portion 12, 14 may include a suitable flat surface portion 36 on the outer surface thereof for receiving label 3.

First portion 12 of container 10 may be provided with a similar structure as described above for second portion 14. More particularly, first portion 12 may include a pair of recesses 38, provided with a peripheral shoulder 39 and separated by a central ridge 40, as shown in FIG. 1(d).

As shown in FIG. 1(d), recesses 38 each include a sidewall 42 at a top portion thereof in which openings 44 are provided. Openings 44 are of sufficient size to permit passage of product dispensed from blister pack 1. Openings 44 are operatively connected to passages 46 which merge to form a central passage 48 in protruding member 18, as shown in cross-section at the top of FIG. 1(d). Second portion 14, if designed for dispensing product from blister pack 1, will include this same structure.

In operation, blister pack 1 is placed on first portion 12, as shown in FIG. 1(a) with the blisters facing upwardly. When it is desired to dispense product from blister pack 1, the user exerts a force on a blister to dispense product from the opposite side of blister pack 1 into one of recesses 38 in first portion 12. Central ridge 40 provides support to blister pack 1 to facilitate dispensing by providing resistance against the exerted force. Once product is dispensed into one of recesses 38, container 10 can be tipped to cause product to feed towards openings 44 in sidewall 42. Product will pass through one of openings 44 into one of passages 46 and be directed to passage 48 in protruding member 18. Product can then be dispensed from container 10 via passage 48 into the hand of a user, in a manner similar to dispensing of product from a conventional bottle, except that only product which has been forced from blister pack 1 is dispensed. If product is dispensed using second portion 14, a similar series of events occurs, except that product is directed to passage 49 in protruding member 20 for dispensing to outside container 10.

The embodiment of FIGS. 1(a)-1(d) offers the advantage that product is initially dispensed from blister pack 1 into recesses 26, 38 within container 10 such that the user maintains control of the product as it is dispensed from blister pack 1. Numerous other designs for blister pack containers suffer from the disadvantage that product is dispensed from the blister pack directly to a location outside the container whereby the user must take additional measures to maintain control over the dispensed product, such as locating a hand, a cup or a flat surface where the product will be dispensed. This adds additional complexity to the dispensing process and increases the risk that product will drop on the floor or ground or be lost or damaged. This advantage applies to other embodiments of the present invention as well.

Another advantage of this and other embodiments of the present invention is that since there are no exposed openings in the outside of the container when the container is in the closed position, the container is more secure than some prior art containers. For example, a child cannot insert a narrow or sharp object into the container through an exposed opening to try to obtain access to product housed in the container, as is possible in some prior art containers. This advantage also applies to other embodiments of the present invention as well.

Yet another advantage of the embodiment of FIGS. 1(a)-1(d) is that since there are no customized openings in the outside of the container or in a plate or surface located inside the container, this embodiment can accommodate various different designs of blister packs, as well as different sizes of product since there are fewer constraints placed on the size and placement of product by the container. In some prior art containers, the use of different types of blister packs or different size medications is limited due to the placement and/or size of openings in the container, plate or surface which place constraints on the type of blister pack and size of product that can be accommodated.

Another advantage of the various containers of the present invention is that since there are no permanent openings in the outer walls of the containers, these containers provide more flexibility for adaptation to different blister packs and products than some prior art containers. For example, as discussed above, in the embodiment of FIGS. 1(a)-1(c), the only constraint on use of different blister packs is that the blister pack must fit within the container and the only constraint on the size of the product is that it must fit into recesses 38 and through openings 44, 48, 49 for dispensing. This facilitates reuse of the outer container 10 with different blister packs and different products, if desired. In other embodiments of the invention, flexibility to accommodate different types of blister packs or different sized products can be provided by replacing only the plate used in the container allowing reuse of the remainder of the container.

Another problem of various prior art containers is that certain containers do not include structure for resisting the force required to dispense produce from the blister pack. As a result, dispensing of product from such containers may be more difficult since the user must provide some external means to resist the dispensing force to facilitate breaking open of the blister. The various embodiments of the present invention are all designed to provide structure as part of the container that resists the dispensing force to thereby facilitate dispensing of product from the blister pack.

Various other designs for first portion 12 are also possible. For example, more than two recesses 38 can be provided with openings 44 communicating with passages 46 and central opening 48, if it is desired to provide additional support to blister pack 1. Another option is to provide a single recess 38 and a single opening 44 in communication with a single passage 46. In this embodiment, a suitable plate, similar to those described in reference to FIGS. 2-4, may be employed to support blister pack 1 in first portion 12.

The plates employed in the various embodiments of the invention typically include openings to allow passage of product from the blister pack through the plate into an internal space in the container, at which point dispensing proceeds as described above. In these embodiments, the blister pack rests on the plate such that there is insufficient space for product to come between blister pack and the plate. The plate may have any suitable design and can be customized for the blister pack, if desired, in order to facilitate dispensing. The plate also typically functions to provide resistance to the dispensing force required to dispense product from the blister pack. The plate may be removable from the container in which case it can be releasably retained in the container by any suitable means such as a snap fit, a friction fit or a releasable adhesive, for example. Alternatively, the plate may be integrally formed as part of a portion of the container in which case the plate will form a permanent part of the container.

Referring now to FIGS. 2(a)-2(b), there is shown a second embodiment of a blister pack container 100 in accordance with the present invention. Container 100 includes a lower portion 102 and a cover 105 preferably attached to lower portion 102 by a hinge 106. A base 104 and a peripheral wall 101 form lower portion 102. In this embodiment, lower portion 102 is fitted with a plate 108 provided with a plurality of openings 110 that align with blisters on blister pack 4. Plate 108 is suspended a sufficient distance above an inner surface 103 of lower portion 102 to allow product dispensed from blister pack 4 to be dispensed into a space 112 between plate 108 and the inner surface 103 of lower portion 102, as shown in FIG. 2(c). Space 112 is sufficiently large to permit free movement of product once it is dispensed into space 112.

A protruding member 120, that may optionally be formed integrally with plate 108, protrudes upwardly from plate 108. Protruding member 120 includes an opening 126 that extends the height of protruding member 120 to communicate with space 112 at one end and to communicate with a location outside container 100 at the other end when container 100 is in the open position. Protruding member 120 may be provided with threads 124 on an outer surface thereof for engagement with a screw cap 122. Screw cap 122 may preferably be a conventional child resistant cap which, for example, requires the user to exert a degree of downward pressure on cap 122 while turning cap 122 in order to remove cap 122 from container 100. Threads 124 may be designed to provide this type of child resistant engagement between container 100 and cap 122 in any suitable, conventional manner. The cap outer diameter is larger than opening 115. Cap 122 may have an extended flange at the base to achieve a larger outer diameter than the opening 115.

Plate 108 may be supported above inner bottom surface 103 of lower portion 102 in any suitable manner, such as by a peripheral flange 114 that forms part of plate 108 and rests on inner bottom surface 103 as shown in FIG. 2(c). Instead of a peripheral flange 114, plate 108 may be provided with any arrangement of downwardly projecting members designed to raise plate 108 above inner bottom surface 103 of lower portion 102, as long as such downwardly projecting members permit dispensed product to move freely in space 112. Alternatively, as shown in, for example, FIG. 1(a), lower portion 102 may be provided with a peripheral shoulder and/or one or more ridges upon which plate 108 may rest. In another embodiment, plate 108 may be formed integrally with bottom portion 102.

Preferably, plate 108 is located slightly below the uppermost part of peripheral wall 101 as shown in FIG. 2(c) to provide a peripheral lip 117 formed by the uppermost part of peripheral wall 101 around plate 108. Peripheral lip 117 is employed to position and maintain blister pack 4 in lower portion 102 on plate 108 with the blisters in alignment with openings 110. In this embodiment, a specially designed blister pack 4 may be employed which has the blisters positioned at predetermined locations, as shown. In addition, specially designed blister pack 4 may be sized to fit snugly within peripheral lip 117 on plate 108 and may include a cutout 5, as shown in FIG. 2(a) to fit around protruding member 120. Blister pack 4 may be removable from container 100 when container 100 is in the open position, or, alternatively, blister pack 4 can be affixed to plate 108 or held in lower portion 102 of container 100 in any suitable manner such as by a snap fit, a friction fit, gluing or other suitable means. For example, peripheral lip 117 can provide a snap or friction fit between the periphery of blister pack 4 and peripheral lip 117 to releasably retain blister pack 4 on plate 108. Any other suitable means may be employed to retain blister pack in lower portion 102 of container 100, if desired.

Once product is dispensed into space 112, container 100 can be tilted to cause the product to move to opening 126 at which point product can be dispensed from container 100 via opening 126.

Although container 100 of FIGS. 2(a)-2(c) places some constraints on the blister pack 4 not present in the previous embodiment, there is still a great deal of flexibility inherent in this design. For example, in one embodiment, plate 108 may be releasably retained in lower portion 102 by a snap fit, friction fit or other suitable releasable engagement mechanism. In this embodiment, it is possible to replace plate 108 with a new plate customized to a new blister pack in order to accommodate, for example, a different blister pack or a different sized product. This allows reuse of lower portion 102 and cover 104 and also cap 122.

Container 100 is provided with a cover 105 that may be opened when screw cap 122 is removed from protruding member 120 as shown in FIG. 2(a). At least a portion of cover 105 is preferably transparent, as shown, to allow viewing of product in blister pack 4 when container 100 is in the closed position depicted in FIG. 2(b). Cover 105 includes a peripheral wall 107 and a top portion 109. Peripheral wall 107 rests on peripheral lip 117 of lower portion 102 to support top portion 109 a sufficient height above plate 108 to provide sufficient space to at least accommodate the blisters of blister pack 4 when container 100 is in the closed position. Peripheral wall 107 includes an indentation 113 that fits around protruding member 120. To facilitate access to screw cap 122, it is preferable that, in this embodiment, the combination of screw cap 122 and protruding member 120 be of sufficient height that portion of screw cap 122 extends above top portion 109 of cover 105, when container 100 is in the closed position shown in FIG. 2(b). This provides an accessible portion of cap 122 which can be grasped to facilitate screwing and unscrewing of screw cap 122.

Cover 105 also includes a flange 111 that at least partially surrounds protruding member 120. Flange 111 extends from a lower portion of the part of peripheral wall 117 that forms indentation 113. Flange 111 fits sufficiently closely around at least a portion of protruding member 120 such that screw cap 122 will abut with the upper surface of flange 111 when screw cap 122 is screwed onto threads 124 of protruding member 120 so that cover 105 cannot be opened. In a preferred embodiment, flange 111 includes an opening 115 therein such that flange 111 may completely surround protruding member 120 as shown in FIG. 2(a) to provide additional mechanical strength to flange 111 and thereby provide additional security against unauthorized opening of container 100.

The container 150 of FIG. 2(d) is a variation on the container of FIGS. 2(a)-2(b). As a result, other than those features that would be inconsistent with the features described below, the various features and modifications discussed relative to FIGS. 2(a)-2(c), may also be applied to the embodiment of FIG. 2(d).

In this embodiment the shape of lower portion 152 is elliptical, substantially elliptical or oval rather than substantially circular or circular as in the embodiment of FIGS. 2(a)-2(b). As a result, cover 155 is also elliptical, substantially elliptical or oval. Cover 155 is preferably attached to lower portion 152 at one of the narrow ends via a hinge 156 as shown.

The design of FIG. 2(d) offers two advantages relative to the design of FIGS. 2(a)-2(b). First, the shape of the container 150 may be used to facilitate movement of product in the internal space of container 150 to opening 176 in protruding member 170 since the shape of peripheral wall 151 can be used to define the internal space of container 150 to thereby provide a shape that will direct product to the narrow end at which opening 176 is located, when container 150 is tipped to position that narrow end below the remainder of container 150.

A second advantage of the design of FIG. 2(d) is that there is no indentation in cover 105 surrounding protruding member 170 as in the embodiment of FIGS. 2(a)-2(b). As a result, cap 172 need not extend above top portion 159 of cover 155 when container 150 is in the closed position because the design of container 150 provides sufficient access for the user to grasp cap 172 without requiring cap 172 to extend above top portion 159.

Cover 155 is provided with a flange 161 that extends from a lower portion of peripheral wall 157 of cover 155 at the same narrow end at which protruding member 170 is located. A surface of flange 161 is abutted by cap 172 when cap 172 is screwed onto protruding member 170 to hold cover 155 in the closed position. Preferably, flange 161 includes an opening 165 therein such that flange 161 extends completely around protruding member 170, as shown in FIG. 2(d) to enhance the mechanical integrity of flange 161 and provide a more secure closure of container 150, as discussed above in relation to the embodiment of FIGS. 2(a)-2(b).

Referring to FIGS. 3(a)-3(b), there is shown another embodiment of a blister pack container 200 in accordance with the present invention. This embodiment is also a variation on the container of FIGS. 2(a)-2(c). As a result, other than those features that would be inconsistent with the features described below, the various features and modifications discussed relative to FIGS. 2(a)-2(c), may also be applied to the embodiment of FIG. 2(d).

More specifically, container 200 includes a substantially circular lower portion 202 having a base and a peripheral sidewall 201. Lower portion 202 houses a plate 208 provided with a plurality of openings 210 that align with blisters on blister pack 6. Plate 208 is positioned a sufficient height above an inner surface of the base of lower portion 202 to provide enough space for product to be dispensed through plate 208 and to be able to move to central opening 226 in protruding member 220. Plate 208 may be associated with lower portion 202 in any suitable manner, such as those described above. For example, plate 208 may be formed integrally with lower portion 202, or plate 208 may be separate from lower portion 202 and may be associated with lower portion 202 by, for example, a snap fit, a friction fit, glue or other suitable means. Plate 208 may be supported by a peripheral flange provided on plate 208, or by a peripheral shoulder that is part of lower portion 202 as described above with reference to FIGS. 2(c) and 1(a).

Container 200 also includes a substantially circular cover 205 formed from a top portion 209, which is preferably partially or wholly transparent, and a peripheral sidewall 207 that is attached to lower portion 202 by a hinge 206. This embodiment locates protruding member 220 substantially in the center of container 200, as shown. Thus, cover 205 includes a central opening 215 that fits closely around protruding member 220. A circular flange 211 extends from a lower portion of an inner circular lip 221 that surrounds opening 215. A screw cap 222 is provided that can be screwed onto threads 224 of protruding member 220, and screw cap 222 abuts with circular flange 211 to hold cover 205 onto lower portion 202 when container 200 is in the closed position. In all embodiments of the invention, screw cap 222 may be provided with roughened or textured surface 223 to facilitate gripping of screw cap 222.

One advantage of this embodiment of the present invention is that it may provide a mechanically stronger flange 211 for securing cover 205 onto lower portion 202 than other embodiments since flange 211 is supported on all sides by the remainder of cover 205 due to its central placement. Another advantage is that it is easier to make support walls that form triangular wedges in lower portion 202 to guide product to the opening. Blisters formatted in a circular pattern would be better suited to utilize this layout.

Referring to FIGS. 4(a)-4(b), there is shown yet another embodiment of the present invention which is a variation on the embodiment of FIG. 2(d). In this embodiment, two blister packs 7, 8 may be dispensed using a single container 300. Container 300 includes a lower portion 302 formed by a base and a peripheral sidewall 301 that includes a peripheral lip 317. Lower portion 302 of container 300 is substantially similar to lower portion 152 of container 150 described above with reference to FIG. 2(d). Thus, lower portion 302 includes a protruding member 320 provided with threads 324 on an outer surface thereof, and protruding member 320 includes a central opening 326 therein that communicates with a space 312 located below a plate 308 that supports blister pack 7. In this embodiment, lower portion 302 is preferably at least partially or wholly transparent to allow the user to view the condition of blister pack 7 when container 300 is in the closed position. In this manner, the user can see how much product remains in blister pack 7. Dispensing from blister pack 7 in lower portion 302 is also substantially the same as dispensing from the containers of FIGS. 2(a)-2(b) and 2(d).

Upper portion 305 of container 300 is adapted for dispensing product from blister pack 8. Upper portion 305 is formed from a transparent top portion 309 and a peripheral wall 307 that provides a peripheral lip 331 which extends slightly above an upper surface of plate 308. Upper portion 305 is attached to lower portion 302 by a hinge 306. In this embodiment, peripheral wall 307 of upper portion 305 has an increased height relative to the peripheral walls of the covers of the previously described embodiments of FIGS. 2-3 to allow space for a second blister pack 8 and for a second internal space 332 formed by a second plate 330 located in upper portion 305. Plates 308 and 330 are each provided with a plurality of openings that align with blisters of blister packs 7, 8, respectively, as in previously described embodiments. Peripheral lips 317 and 331 extend above plates 308, 330 to help position and retain blister packs 7, 8 on plates 308, 330.

For dispensing product from upper portion 305, upper portion 305 is provided with an opening 333 located in sidewall 307 at a location which is positioned closely adjacent to screw cap 322 when container 300 is in the closed position, as shown in FIG. 4(b). As a result of this, screw cap 322 blocks opening 333 when container 300 is in the closed position to prevent dispensing of product from second internal space 332. When container 300 is in the open position of FIG. 4(a), opening 333, which communicates with internal space 332, is no longer blocked and thus product can be dispensed from upper portion 305 via opening 333.

Upper portion 305 also includes a flange 311 that extends from a lower portion of peripheral wall 307 of upper portion 305 at the same narrow end at which protruding member 320 is located. A surface of flange 311 is abutted by cap 322 when cap 322 is screwed onto protruding member 320 to hold upper portion 305 in the closed position. Preferably, flange 311 includes an opening 315 therein such that flange 311 extends completely around protruding member 320, in a similar manner as was shown in FIG. 2(d), to thereby enhance the mechanical integrity of flange 311 and provide a more secure closure of container 300.

The embodiment of the container 300 of FIGS. 4(a)-4(b) combines the advantages of the embodiment of the container 150 of FIG. 2(d) discussed above, with the possibility of including two blister packs 7, 8 in container 300 at the same time and the ability to dispense from both of blister packs 7, 8. Container 300 also potentially allows the user to see, via transparent portions of container 300, how much product remains in blister packs 7, 8 without having to open container 300.

The various embodiments of the container of the present invention make possible containers including a second level of child resistance. Since product is dispensed from the blister pack into an internal space within each container in each embodiment of the present invention, it is possible to provide an additional level of child resistance by, for example, including a second child resistant mechanism which must be actuated to dispense product from the internal space within the container through the opening in the protruding member. Thus, for example, the opening in the protruding member could be provided with a secondary closure mechanism that must be separately actuated to allow dispensing of product from the internal space in the container through the opening in the protruding member. Any suitable secondary closure mechanism may be employed for this purpose including mechanical means which block the opening until actuated, or a secondary cap that may be provided with threads on the outer surface thereof onto which the primary cap may be screwed and which secondary cap may be provided with a different type of child resistant mechanism than the primary cap.

It is to be understood that even though numerous characteristics and advantages of the present invention have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of the invention, the disclosure is illustrative only, and changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of shape, size and arrangement of parts within the principles of the invention to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.