Title:
System and process for packing unit doses of liquid medication
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A personal medication packaging system includes a frame, moveable track is supported by the frame and a roll of separable plastic bags operationally connected to the track. A funnel is positioned relative to the frame to dispense medication into a selected bag. In a process for consumer packing of unit doses of medication, a selected amount of medication is measured, and a roll of plastic bags is fed onto a track. The plastic bags are incrementally advanced on the track to align each bag with a funnel. The selected amount of medication is poured into the funnel.



Inventors:
Curran, Shanley J. (Northridge, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/745041
Publication Date:
06/23/2005
Filing Date:
12/22/2003
Assignee:
CURRAN SHANLEY J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/250, 53/284.7, 53/469, 53/479, 53/571
International Classes:
B65B1/04; B65B1/06; B65B9/08; B65B67/04; B65B1/30; B65B51/14; (IPC1-7): B65B1/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
TAWFIK, SAMEH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KELLY & KELLEY, LLP (WOODLAND HILLS, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A personal medication packaging system, comprising: a frame; a moveable track supported by the frame; a roll of separable plastic bags operationally connected to the track; and a funnel positioned relative to the frame to dispense medication into a selected bag.

2. The system of claim 1, including a mechanism for moving the track.

3. The system of claim 1, including means for opening the selected bag positioned adjacent to the funnel.

4. The system of claim 3, including means for closing the selected bag after dispensing medication.

5. The system of claim 1, including means for sealing the selected bag after dispensing medication.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the track includes pins for engaging corresponding apertures located on the bags.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein each bag includes an opening and the apertures are located adjacent to the opening.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the funnel is removably mounted onto the frame.

9. The system of claim 1, including a liner covering an interior surface of the funnel.

10. A personal medication packaging system, comprising: a frame; a roll of separable plastic bags operationally connected to the track; a funnel positioned relative to the frame to dispense medication into a selected bag; a mechanism for moving the track; means for opening the selected bag positioned adjacent to the funnel; means for closing the selected bag after dispensing medication; and means for sealing the selected bag after dispensing medication.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein the funnel is removably mounted onto the frame.

12. The system of claim 10, including a liner covering an interior surface of the funnel.

13. The system of claim 10, wherein the track includes pins for engaging corresponding apertures located on the bags and wherein each bag includes an opening and the apertures are located adjacent to the opening.

14. A process for consumer packing of unit doses of medication, comprising the step of: measuring a selected amount of medication; feeding a roll of plastic bags onto a track; incrementally advancing the plastic bags on the track to align each bag with a funnel; and pouring the selected amount of medication into the funnel.

15. The process of claim 14, including the step of covering an interior surface of the funnel with a lining material.

16. The process of claim 14, including the step of opening each bag when aligned with the funnel.

17. The process of claim 14, including the step of heat sealing each bag after pouring the medication thereinto.

18. A process for consumer packing of unit doses of medication, comprising the step of: measuring a selected amount of medication; feeding a roll of plastic bags onto a track; incrementally advancing the plastic bags on the track to align each bag with a funnel; opening each bag when aligned with the funnel; pouring the selected amount of medication into the funnel, the medication passing through the funnel and into the open bag aligned with the funnel; and heat sealing each bag after pouring the medication thereinto.

19. The process of claim 18, including the step of covering an interior surface of the funnel with a lining material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to medication packing. More particularly, the invention relates to a personal medication packing system.

There is a great need for a personal medication packing system. Many individuals require chronic medication of various kinds due to kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease or the like. These individuals find it cumbersome to use liquid medication away from home as the liquid medication must be carried in a bottle, and diluted in water for each use several times a day. Additionally, many people have contact chemical allergies and must use only certain cosmetic products. However, many of these products are not sold in convenient travel sizes. Options are available for convenience uses such as the smaller medication bottles received from the pharmacy, or the small plastic containers purchased at a store. Both of these choices are undesirable because of, for example, leakage problems (e.g., ruining a purse, briefcase or other expensive carrier), and because, in another example, this requires measuring at the time of use which is often messy, cumbersome and draws unwanted attention.

Many different types of bag supports have been employed to support bags for filling. However, such systems are not suitable for efficiently preparing unit quantities of medication. Various arrangements of bag supports hold a bag in place beneath a funnel; merely trapping the mouth of the bag. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,039,214 discloses a material dispensing system usable to fill a variety of containers. However, this is not suitable for preparing small runs of personal doses of medication. In another example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,116,549 discloses a bag support stand which includes legs, a funnel and clips to hold a bag. However, each bag must be individually attached to the support stand, filled, removed from the support, and sealed by hand; a cumbersome and time-consuming process for packaging anything more than a handful of doses of medication. In yet another example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,508,443 discloses a storage bag filling device that uses clips to hold a plastic bag in place on a stand. However, each bag must be individually attached to the support stand, filled, removed from the support, and sealed by hand; a cumbersome and time-consuming process for packaging anything more than a handful of doses of medication.

While methods such as those described above may provide means of packaging medication, such methods can always be improved to provide better and more simplified means of packaging medication.

Accordingly, there is a need for a system of packing medication at home. There is a need for a product to home package dose quantities in a leak-proof, disposable fashion for easy use away from home. There is also a need for a system for packing unit doses of liquid medication. There is a further need for a system for packing medication for travel, day-trips, camping or backpacking, one-time convenience uses or the like. There is an additional need for personal dose-packaging of liquid or pill medications, homeopathics, cosmetics, or condiments, as well as packaging small quantities of supplies for jewelers and craftsmen. There is a need for dose-packaging of medication for patients in nursing homes, day care facilities, or for those at home desiring convenient unit-doses for use away from home. The present invention satisfies these needs and provides other related advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A process and system for packing unit doses of liquid medication. This system is usable in any situation where it is desirable to prepare unit doses of medication for later use. These situations can occur anywhere there is a need for medication to be taken.

The process and system are useful for home use and for use at the drug company and pharmacy levels to provide convenient portable unit doses in disposable packaging. The process and system are also useful for individual home packaging of unit doses/quantities of other substances besides liquid medications, such as personal cosmetic products, specialty condiments, etc. for convenient, leak-proof, pre-measured, disposable use during extended travel or day excursions. The process and system range from a non-electrical packaging device to an automated measuring and heat-sealing packaging device, with a variety of package sizes and features to fit the different uses.

An illustrative embodiment of a personal medication packaging system includes a frame and a moveable track supported by the frame. The purpose of this system is to create an efficient way to package quantities of medication in bags in an assembly-like manner. A roll of separable plastic bags are operationally connected to the track and a funnel is positioned relative to the frame to dispense medication into a selected bag.

The system includes a mechanism for moving the track which enables a user to fill multiple bags with medication in an assembly-like manner. The system further includes a means for opening the selected bag positioned adjacent to the funnel, helping to eliminate the need to manually open each bag so that medication can be poured into each bag while allowing neighboring bags to remain on the track. The system also includes a means for closing the selected bag after dispensing medication which, again, allows quantities of medication to be prepared in an assembly-like manner. The system additionally includes a means for sealing the selected bag after dispensing medication which helps prevent spillage.

The track includes pins for engaging corresponding apertures located on the bags. Each bag is placed onto the pins as bags are fed onto the track from the roll. Each bag includes an opening and the apertures are located adjacent to the opening.

The funnel is removably mounted onto the frame. Medication is poured into the funnel and passes through the funnel to the bag positioned below. A liner covers an interior surface of the funnel; preventing cross-contamination of different medications.

A process for consumer packing of unit doses of medication includes measuring a selected amount of medication. A roll of plastic bags is fed onto a track during the process and the plastic bags incrementally advanced on the track to align each bag with a funnel. Once a bag is aligned with the funnel, the selected amount of medication is poured into the funnel.

During the process, an interior surface of the funnel is covered with a lining material which helps prevent cross-contamination of different medications. The process also includes opening each bag when aligned with the funnel. Each bag is heat sealed after the medication is poured thereinto which helps to prevent spillage of the medication while the bag is being transported or at rest.

Other features and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate the invention. In such drawings:

FIG. 1 is an orthogonal view of a system for packing unit doses of medication embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1 after the bags have been advanced along the track;

FIG. 4 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1 as a desired medication is being poured through the funnel into the selected bag;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1 after the selected bag has been filed with a desired amount of medication and advanced towards the heat sealing mechanism;

FIG. 6 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1 illustrating the selected bag being heat sealed;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1 illustrating the selected bag being advanced along the track after being heat sealed;

FIG. 8 is a top plan cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1 before a selected bag has been filled with a desired amount of medication;

FIG. 10 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 1 after a selected bag has been filled with a desired amount of medication and is in the process of being heat sealed;

FIG. 11 is a side elevation view of a selected bag filled with a desired amount of medication embodying the present invention;

FIG. 12 is an orthogonal view of another system for packing unit doses of medication embodying the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a top plan cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 12; and

FIG. 14 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of the system of FIG. 12.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is useful in a variety of applications involving preparation of unit doses of medication for later use. The present invention provides a system for packing medication at home. The present invention also provides a system for packing unit doses of liquid medication. The present invention further provides a system for packing medication for travel, day-trips, camping or backpacking, one-time convenience uses or the like. The present invention additionally provides personal dose-packaging of liquid or pill medications, homeopathics, cosmetics, or condiments, as well as packaging small quantities of supplies for jewelers and craftsmen. The present invention provides for dose-packaging of medication for patients in nursing homes, day care facilities, or for those at home desiring convenient unit-doses for use away from home.

A process and system for packing unit doses of liquid medication are illustrated and described. This system is usable in any situation where it is desirable to prepare unit doses of medication for later use. These situations can occur anywhere there is a need for medication to be taken.

As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the present invention resides in a personal medication packaging system. With reference to FIGS. 1-11, a personal medication packaging system 20 includes a frame 22, a moveable track 24 supported by the frame 22, a roll 26 of separable plastic bags 28 operationally connected to the track 24, and a funnel 30 positioned relative to the frame 22 to dispense medication 32 into a selected bag 28.

The bags 28 on the roll 26 are separably connected to each other along a series of perforations 34 located on the sides of the bags 28. These perforations 34 allow a bag 28 filled with medication 32 to be separated from the other bags 28 on the track 24 after the bag 28 with medication 32 is sealed. Each bag 28 includes an opening 36 on an upper portion of the bag 28 through which medication 32 passes while the bag is being filled and which is sealed when the bag 28 is filled. A plurality of apertures 38 are located adjacent to the opening 36 of the bag 28 that allow the bags 28 to engage the track 24.

The frame 22 includes a generally rectangular top surface 40, a front wall 42, a first sidewall 44, a back wall 46, a second sidewall 48, and four legs 50 (one leg 50 located at each corner of the frame 22). The top surface 40 includes an elongated, generally rectangular longitudinal aperture 52, an elongated generally rectangular latitudinal aperture 54, and an elongated, generally ovoid longitudinal aperture 56. These apertures 52, 54, 56 serve various purposes, as described in more detail below. The shapes of the apertures 52, 54, 56 may vary and also be in the form of rectangle, squares, circles, or any polygonal shape. The front wall 42 includes an circular aperture 58 and an elongated, generally rectangular slot 60. The first sidewall 44 includes a generally rectangular notch 62 through which bags 28 leave the track 24 and exit the frame 22. The legs 50 telescope to allow for longer bags 28, and are weighted to prevent the frame 22 from tipping.

The frame 22 may be made from a variety of materials, including without limitation metal (e.g., aluminum, stainless steel), plastic (e.g., injection molded plastic), wood or the like.

The moveable track 24 includes teeth or pins 64 for engaging the apertures 38 located on the bags 28, as the distance between the pins 64 on the track 24 is equal or nearly equal to the distance between the apertures 38 on each bag 28. The apertures 38 on the bags 28 are wide enough to allow the bags 28 to be easily fed onto the track 24. The track 24 is connected to an underside 66 of the frame 22 via two rotating rollers 68 extending from the underside 66, each roller 68 located near one of the sidewalls 44, 48. The track 24 is in the form of an ovoid and each pin 64 follows a continuous, elongated ovoid path as the track 24 moves.

The roll 26 of plastic bags 28 is inserted around a holder 70 extending from the underside 66 of the frame 22. The roll 26 is positioned above the ground or other surface upon which the frame 22 rests so that the roll 26 freely rotates about the holder 70. This allows the roll 26 to rotate without any friction associated with contact of the roll 26 with the ground or other surface. A holding plate 72 with a threaded central screw is positioned beneath the roll 26 and holds the roll 26 in position above the ground when the screw is threadedly mated with a threaded bore in the holder 70 after the roll 26 has been placed on the holder 70. A first bag 28 on the roll 26 is fed onto the track 24 device such that the apertures 38 of the bags 28 extending from the roll 26 are lined up with the pins 64 of the track 24 (similar to the process of feeding photographic film into a camera).

The system 20 includes a mechanism for moving the track 24 in the form of an advance bar lever 74 operationally connected to the track 24 via a mechanical linkage (not shown), the advance bar lever 74 extending through the circular aperture 58 in the front wall 42. When a user desires to advance bags 28 along the track 24, the user rotates the advance bar lever 74 in a counter-clockwise direction that moves bags 28 from the roll 26 towards a position under the funnel 30. In the alternative, the track 24 may be motorized and a switch employed to move the track forwards, backwards or stop the movement of the track 24.

The opening 36 of each bag 28 is closed as the bags 28 travel along the track 24. However, in order to fill a selected bag 28 with medication 32, the opening 36 must be opened when the selected bag 28 is positioned under the funnel 30. The system 20 includes a means for opening the selected bag 28 positioned adjacent to the funnel 30 in the form of a bag opener lever 76 operationally connected to the track 24 via a mechanical linkage (not shown), the bag opener lever 76 extending through the slot 60 in the front wall 42. When the selected bag 28 is located under the funnel 30, the bag opener lever 76 manually advances a back end of the selected bag 28 forward a small distance to a new position when the bag opener lever 76 is slid towards the first sidewall 44, popping the selected bag 28 open for filling with medication 32 as the user concurrently rotates the advance bar lever 74 in a clockwise direction.

The system 20 includes a means for closing the selected bag 28 after the bag 28 is filled with a desired amount of medication 32. Once the bag 28 is filled, the bag opener lever 76 manually advances the back end of the selected bag 28 backward a small distance to its former position when the bag opener lever 76 is slid towards the second sidewall 48, closing the opening 36 of the selected bag 28. The advance bar lever 74 is then used again to manually carry the bag 28 to a position for sealing when the user rotates the advance bar lever 74 in a counter-clockwise direction. The levers 74, 76 may be used in conjunction with each other to perform a variety of bag positioning and filling maneuvers.

The system 20 includes a means for sealing the selected bag 28 after dispensing medication 32 in the form of a heat bar lever 78 extending through the elongated generally rectangular latitudinal aperture 54. The heat bar lever 78 is operationally connected to two heat bars 80 via a mechanical linkage (not shown). The heat bars 80 are heated by an electrical current, the heat bars 80 being operationally connected to a power source (not shown). The advance bar lever 74 brings the bag 28 filled with medication 32 between the heat bars 80. The user moves the heat bar lever 78 towards the back wall 46 which brings the two heat bars 80 together at the top edge of the bag 28, thereby sealing the bag 28. Heat sealing allows for more advanced package designs, such as a bag 28 in the form of a spouted packet to prevent spillage of liquids when dispensed. In the alternative, the bags 28 may include mechanical seals, such as a ZIP-LOC or adhesive seal.

The funnel 30 is removably mounted into the generally ovoid aperture 56 of the frame 22 such that a portion of the funnel 30 extends from the underside 66 of the frame 22. A portion of the funnel 30 may be shaped so as to conform to the shape of the aperture 56. The funnel 30 may be made from a variety of materials including metal, plastic, wood or the like.

A disposable liner 82 can be inserted into the funnel 30 such that the liner 82 covers an interior surface of the funnel 30. The liner 82 may be made of various materials, including, without limitation, plastic, cloth, paper, permeable materials, impermeable materials or the like.

In use, a process for consumer packing of unit doses of medication includes measuring a selected amount of medication. A roll 26 of plastic bags 28 is fed onto the track 24. The perforated bags 28 (of myriad designs for various uses) are fed onto the track 24 near the roll 26, where the apertures 38 on the bags 28 are lined up with the pins 64 in the track 24. The plastic bags 28 are incrementally advanced on the track to align each bag 28 with the funnel 30. The advance bar lever 74 manually advances the bags 28 along the track 24 until a selected bag 28 to be filled is brought to a position under the funnel 30. Each selected bag 28 is opened when aligned with the funnel 30. At that point, the bag opener lever 76 manually advances the back end of the selected bag 28 forward to a new position, popping the bag 28 positioned under the funnel 30 open for filling. The user then pours a selected amount of medication 32 into the funnel 30. A disposable liner 82 is placed into the funnel 30 in order to cover the funnel 30 to avoid cleaning needs and to prevent mixing medications 32. Once the medication 32 has been poured into the selected bag 28 and the bag 28 filled, the bag 28 is heat sealed. The advance bar lever 74 is used again to manually carry the selected bag 28 to a position for heat sealing. At this point, the heat bar lever 78 is used to bring the two heat bars 80 together at the top edge of the selected bag 28, thereby sealing the selected bag 28 with a heat seal 84. The advance bar lever 74 is then used to bring the selected bag 28 out of the other end of the frame 22 through the rectangular notch 62 in the first sidewall 44. The system 20 allows for an assembly-line like process to increase the efficiency for the user. The system 20 also frees both hands for controlling the measuring and pouring of the chosen substance for storage. The bag 28 will be equipped with a label area 86 for writing necessary information about the substance stored therein. The bags 28 will also be offered in a variety of styles, though all will includes apertures 38 for engaging the track 24.

Another embodiment of the present invention, illustrated in FIGS. 12-14, is in the form of a personal medication packaging system 100 includes a frame 102, a moveable track 104 supported by the frame 102, a roll 106 of separable plastic bags 108 operationally connected to the track 104, and a funnel 110 positioned relative to the frame 102 to dispense medication (not shown) into a selected bag 108.

The bags 108 on the roll 106 are separably connected to each other along a series of perforations 112 located on the sides of the bags 108. These perforations 112 allow a bag 108 filled with medication to be separated from the other bags 108 on the track 104 after the bag 108 with medication is sealed. Each bag 108 includes an opening 114 on an upper portion of the bag 108 through which medication passes while the bag 108 is being filled and which is sealed when the bag 108 is filled.

The frame 102 includes a generally rectangulartop surface 116, a front wall 118, a first sidewall 120, a back wall 122, a second sidewall 124, and four legs 126 (one leg 126 located at each corner of the frame 102). The top surface 116 includes an elongated, generally rectangular longitudinal aperture 128, an elongated generally rectangular latitudinal aperture 130, and an elongated, generally ovoid longitudinal aperture 132. These apertures 128, 130, 132 serve various purposes, as described in more detail below. The shapes of the apertures 128, 130, 132 may vary and also be in the form of rectangle, squares, circles, or any polygonal shape. The front wall 118 includes a circular aperture 134. The first sidewall 120 includes two notches 138 through which bags 108 leave the track 104 and exit the frame 102. The notches 138 may be generally key-hole shaped with generally circular portions. The legs 126 telescope to allow for longer bags 108, and are weighted to prevent the frame 102 from tipping.

The frame 102 may be made from the same materials as the frame 22 described above.

The moveable track 104 a generally flat adhesive surface 140 for engaging the bags 108. The adhesiveness of the surface 140 is sufficiently strong enough to hold the bags 108 on the track 104 yet weak enough to allow the bags 108 to be removed from the track 104 as the upper portions of the bags 108 pass through the notches 138. The track 104 is connected to an underside 142 of the frame 102 via two rotating rollers 144 extending from the underside 142, each roller 144 located near one of the sidewalls 120, 124. The track 104 is in the form of an ovoid and follows a generally continuous, elongated ovoid path as the track 104 moves.

The roll 106 of plastic bags 108 is connected to the track 104 by inserting the bags 108 through a pair of notches 146 on the sidewall 124. The notches 146, similar to the notches 138 on the other sidewall 120, may be generally key-hole shaped with generally circular portions. In the alternative, the roll 106 may be connected to a holder (not shown) extending from either the underside 142 of the frame 102 or positioned adjacent to the frame 102. The roll 106 is positioned above the ground or other surface upon which the frame 102 rests so that the roll 106 freely rotates as bags 108 are fed onto the track 104. This allows the roll 106 to rotate without any friction associated with contact of the roll 106 with the ground or other surface. A first bag 108 on the roll 106 is fed onto the track 104 device such that the side of the bags 108 are removably adhered to the track 104. The upper portion of each bag 108 is dividable into two sides 148 with a round rigid top edge 150 on each side 148. A v-shaped separator 152 is located on the sidewall 120 to separate the two sides 148 of the upper portion of each bag 108 as the bags 108 are fed onto the track 104. Another generally v-shaped separator 154 is located on the inner portion of the sidewall 124 to assist separating the bags 108 from the track 104 as the track 104 turns about the roller 144 near the sidewall 120.

The system 100 includes a mechanism for moving the track 104 in the form of an advance bar lever 156 operationally connected to the track 104 via a mechanical linkage (not shown), the advance bar lever 156 extending through the circular aperture 134 in the front wall 118. When a user desires to advance bags 108 along the track 104, the user rotates the advance bar lever 156 in a counter-clockwise direction that moves bags 108 from the roll 106 towards a position under the funnel 110. In the alternative, the track 104 may be motorized and a switch employed to move the track forwards, backwards or stop the movement of the track 104. In the alternative, the track 104 may be mechanically connected to a rotatable wheel (not shown) that may be turned by the user's hand to move the track 104.

The opening 114 of each bag 108 is open as the bags 108 travel along the track 104. However, in order to fill a selected bag 108 with medication, the opening 114 must be opened as wide as the bottom opening of the funnel 110 when the selected bag 108 is positioned under the funnel 110. The system 100 includes a means for opening the selected bag 108 positioned adjacent to the funnel 110 in the form of a guide 158 surrounding the funnel 110. The guide 158 separates additionally separates and spaces apart the two sides 148 of each bag 108 as the selected bag 108 passes under the funnel 110.

The system 100 includes a means for sealing the selected bag 108 after dispensing medication in the form of a heat bar lever 160 extending through the elongated generally rectangular latitudinal aperture 130. The heat bar lever 160 is operationally connected to at least one heat bar 162 via a mechanical linkage (not shown). The heat bar 162 is heated by an electrical current, the heat bar 162 being operationally connected to a power source (not shown). The track 104 brings the bag 108 filled with medication to the heat bar 162 which then seals the bag 108.

The funnel 110 is removably mounted into the generally ovoid aperture 132 of the frame 102 such that a portion of the funnel 110 extends from the underside 142 of the frame 102. A portion of the funnel 110 may be shaped so as to conform to the shape of the aperture 132. The funnel 110 may be made from a variety of materials including metal, plastic, wood or the like. At the start of the process of putting medication into the bags 10, a disposable liner 136 is placed into the funnel 110 in order to cover the funnel 110 in order to avoid cleaning needs and to prevent mixing medications.

After the bag 108 is heat sealed, the bag 108 is advanced towards the v-shaped separator 154 is located on the inner portion of the sidewall 124 which assists in separating the bags 108 from the track 104 as the track 104 curves around the roller 144 closest to the sidewall 124 through which the bags 108 exit the frame 102. The upper edges of the sides 148 of the bags 108 pass through the notches 138 as the bags 108 leave the frame 102.

In an alternative, the system 20, 100 includes a guide located underneath the bags 28, 108 as the bags 28, 108 move along the track 24, 104. The guide may be generally rectangular such that the bags 28, 108 are held within the guide to prevent the bags 28, 108 from getting twisted or falling to the surface upon which the frame 22, 102 rests. The guide may also include a surface designed to aid movement of the bags 28, 108. For example, the surface may include wheels or the like which contact the bags 28, 108 to aid the movement of the bags 28, 108 over the surface.

In another alternative, the system 20, 100 includes a stand or frame which supports a central funnel. Clamps connected to the frame suspend a channel-sealing unit-dose size plastic bag or package below the funnel. Liners are used to line the funnel to prevent mixing substances if different substances are measured into the unit dose packages. The bases or legs of the stand are weighted to prevent tipping of the stand. The plastic bags or packages are available in several styles to accommodate different needs, such as clear plastic, dark light-deflecting plastic (for some medications), packages with graduated markings for measurement in cc's or tsp's as a visual check of the measured dose of medication.

In yet another alternative, similar to the preceding alternative, the system includes an electrical supply that allows the user to feed the unit dose bag or package in an open position onto a track which then carries the package to a position below the funnel. The bag or package is then advanced, via an advancing lever, to a new position where the bag or package is sealed by a heat sealing mechanism that includes a heat bar.

In still another alternative, similar to the second preceding alternative, the system includes automated progression through the device (e.g., along a motorized track) and digital measurement of doses for bulk packaging of unit dose convenience packages at home or for distribution from the pharmacy at the patients' request.

The above-described embodiments of the present invention are illustrative only and not limiting. It will thus be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made without departing from this invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the appended claims encompass all such changes and modifications as falling within the true spirit and scope of this invention.