Title:
Re-usable dispensing aid for a semi-solid preparation packaged in a bag
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The re-usable dispensing aid helps to manually dispense a semi-solid preparation packaged in a bag having a seal seam on an end of the bag opposite to a bag tear-off. The dispensing aid has a housing, a device for fixing the bag in the housing and a device for forcing the preparation out of the bag by single-handed operation after fixing the bag and opening the bag. The device for forcing the preparation out of the bag has a manually operable slider on the housing exterior and a roller connected with it inside the housing so that a mechanical pressure is applied to the open bag by the roller to squeeze out its contents when the slider is operated by a thumb of the operator. The bag can be especially adapted for dispensing with this dispensing aid by suitable structuring of the seal seam with appropriate recesses.



Inventors:
Bracht, Stephan (Glienicke-Nordbahn, DE)
Application Number:
11/267744
Publication Date:
01/25/2007
Filing Date:
11/04/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D35/28
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NICOLAS, FREDERICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STRIKER, STRIKER & STENBY (HUNTINGTON, NY, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A re-usable dispensing aid for a cosmetic or pharmaceutical semi-solid preparation packaged in a bag for application to skin, said bag having a seal seam for closing the bag on one end of the bag and a bag tear-off for forming an opening on another end opposite from the one end, said dispensing aid comprising a housing; and means for forcing the semi-solid preparation contained in the bag out of the bag, said means for forcing the preparation out of the bag being operable by a single hand of an operator after fixing the bag in a dispensing position in the housing.

2. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 1, further comprising a manually operable retaining device for releasably holding the bag in the housing during operation to dispense the semi-solid preparation, and wherein the retaining device is arranged in the vicinity of the seal seam and is engaged with the bag in the vicinity of the seal seam prior to dispensing the semi-solid preparation.

3. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 1, wherein said means for forcing the preparation out of the bag comprises a squeezing device for squeezing the bag and a slider connected with the squeezing device, wherein said squeezing device is arranged in an interior region of the housing and said slider is slidably mounted on an exterior of the housing for manual operation of the squeezing device by means of a thumb of the hand of the operator.

4. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 3, wherein the squeezing device comprises a roller mounted so as to be rotatable about a rotation axis and said roller is movable in a direction perpendicular to said rotation axis by means of the slider.

5. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 4, wherein said roller is mounted so that said roller exerts a manually applied mechanical pressure on the bag and is movable over a predetermined portion of the bag but remains rotatable while exerting the mechanical pressure on the bag.

6. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 5, wherein said roller is made of an elastomer or rubber material.

7. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 5, wherein the roller traverses a length of from 3 to 10 cm during travel of the roller over the predetermined portion.

8. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 7, wherein said length is from 4 to 7 cm.

9. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 4, wherein said roller has a roller width of from 0.5 to 5 cm.

10. The dispensing aid as defined in claim 9, wherein said roller width is from 1 to 3 cm.

11. A bag for a cosmetic or pharmaceutical semi-solid preparation packaged in a bag, said bag comprising a bag tear-off for forming an opening for dispensing the semi-solid preparation and a seal seam for sealing the bag on an end of the bag opposite from a bag tear-off, wherein the seal seam has a width of more than 5 mm.

12. The bag as defined in claim 11, wherein recesses are provided in the seal seam opposite from the bag tear-off and said seal seam and said recesses are formed for positioning and justifying the bag in a dispensing aid for assisting dispensing the preparation.

13. The bag as defined in claim 11, wherein said width is more than 7 mm.

14. A bag for packaging a cosmetic or pharmaceutical semi-solid preparation and a re-usable dispensing aid for the preparation packaged in the bag; wherein said bag comprises a bag tear-off for forming an opening for dispensing the semi-solid preparation, said bag tear-off being arranged at one end of the bag, and a seal seam for closing the bag at another end of the bag opposite from the one end having the bag tear-off; and wherein the dispensing aid comprises a housing; retaining means for for releasably holding the bag in the housing during operation to dispense the semi-solid preparation, and wherein the retaining device is arranged at the end of the bag opposite from the bag tear-off and is engaged with the bag in the vicinity of the seal seam prior to dispensing the semi-solid preparation; and means for forcing the semi-solid preparation contained in the bag out from the bag, said means for forcing being operable by a single hand of an operator after fixing the bag in a dispensing position in the housing.

15. The bag and the dispensing aid as defined in claim 14, wherein said seal seam has a width of more than 5 mm and is provided with a plurality of recesses, and said means for forcing the preparation out from the bag comprises a roller inside of the housing and a manually operable slider outside of the housing and movable along the housing so as to move the roller over a distance of from 3 to 7 cm inside the housing while bearing on the bag in order to squeeze out the contents of the bag when the bag is fixed in the housing.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE

The present invention described hereinbelow is also described in U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/700,519, filed Jul. 19, 2005. Priority of invention based on the aforesaid U.S. Provisional Application is hereby claimed under 35 U.S.C. 119 (e).

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a dispensing aid for semi-solid cosmetic or pharmaceutical preparations, which are packaged in bags, especially in an elongated tubular bag in the form of a so-called stick pack. This bag-form one-time-use container should be emptied especially completely and in a single squeezing or spreading out process with the help of the dispensing aid. Especially this emptying process should be performed very comfortably with only one hand.

2. Related Art

Transdermal pharmaceutical preparations include, among other forms, semi-solid preparations, especially gels and creams. These preparations can be filled in tubes and dispensers acting as multi-dose containers. Alternatively they can be filled in tubular bags or sealed four-edged bags, which dispense a single dose. While sealed four-edged bags are often used for cosmetic products, especially samples, tubular bags are preferred for pharmaceutical applications. This is connected with the special requirements for complete dispensing of the contents of the bag and for repeatability of this dispensing process in the case of pharmaceutical applications. Cosmetic products are not legally required to satisfy these requirements. These requirements are fulfilled better by elongated tubular bags than sealed flat, rectangular or square bags. For example, a typical tubular bag in the form of a so-called stick pack contains the product Testogel, which is marketed by the firm Jenapharm GmbH & Co. KG.

The tedious removal of the entire contents of the bag is one disadvantage of this form of administration, since it requires multiple manual pressing and spreading out of the bag in a manner similar to that required with a tooth paste tube. This is especially applies when the user has only one hand available for dispensing product, when for example the gel should be applied with the right hand to the left upper arm.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a dispensing aid, which reduces the entire process for dispensing gel from a bag, especially a tubular bag, to a single squeezing or spreading out motion;

It is another object of the present invention to provide a dispensing aid, which permits dispensing gel from a bag, especially a tubular bag, by manual operations with only one hand.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a dispensing aid, which facilitates the dispensing of reproducible or repeatable amounts of the gel from its bag container.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a dispensing aid for dispensing gel from a bag, especially a tubular bag, which is economically made with as few parts as possible.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a bag for packaging a semi-solid preparation, especially a gel, with special features that facilitate cooperation with the dispensing aid described hereinbelow and claimed in the appended claims.

All these objectives can be attained by a dispensing aid, which has a surprisingly simple structure, which can be assembled from only four separate parts. Furthermore all the parts can be made from plastic by currently known injection molding techniques. In fact adhesives are not even required.

The re-usable dispensing aid according to the invention helps to manually dispense a cosmetic or pharmaceutical semi-solid preparation, which is packaged in a bag, which has a seal seam for closing the bag on an end of the bag opposite from another end and a bag tear-off for forming an opening at the other end. The re-usable manually operable dispensing aid comprises a housing and means for forcing the semi-solid preparation contained in the bag out of the bag. The means for forcing the preparation out of the bag is manually operable by a single hand of an operator, i.e. a user or administrator, after fixing the bag in a dispensing position in the housing.

Preferred embodiments of the dispensing aid comprise a manually operable retaining device for releasably holding the bag in the housing during operation to force the semi-solid preparation out of the bag. This retaining device is arranged at the end of the bag opposite from the bag tear-off and is engaged with the bag in the vicinity of the seal seam prior to dispensing the semi-solid preparation.

Preferably the means for forcing the bag contents out of the bag comprises a squeezing device for squeezing the bag and a slider connected with the squeezing device. The squeezing device is arranged in an interior region of the housing and the slider is slidably mounted on an exterior of the housing for manual operation of the squeezing device by means of a thumb of the hand of the operator. The squeezing device is preferably a rotatable roller mounted in side members connected to the slider and extending through slots in the housing. During operation to force the contents of the bag from the bag the roller is roller from an initial position in the vicinity of the bag seal seam toward the bag tear-off opening over a distance of from 3 to 7 cm.

The preferred embodiments of the dispensing aid are illustrated in the drawing and described in more detail hereinbelow. Of course the dispensing aid of the invention can be constructed by well known construction techniques and the dispensing aid will function efficiently according to the expected operation principles.

Furthermore it was found surprisingly that even small changes in the current conventional tubular bag considerably improved its cooperation with the dispensing aid according to the invention. These small changes include a widening of the seal seam, which permits complete spreading or pressing out of the bag middle portion on the one hand and certain recesses or openings in the seal seam opposite from the bag opening, in order to optimize the adjustment of the bag in the dispensing aid (see the figures in the drawing).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The objects, features and advantages of the invention will now be illustrated in more detail with the aid of the following description of the preferred embodiments, with reference to the accompanying figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a dispensing aid for dispensing a semi-solid product from a tubular bag according to the invention;

FIGS. 2a and 2b are, respectively, a perspective view and a cross-sectional view through the central part of the housing, showing a slider and other parts of the dispensing aid shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cutaway perspective action view showing the operation of the squeezing roller in the dispensing aid of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c are plan end views and a perspective view of the dispensing aid of FIG. 1, showing action of a retaining mechanism for holding the tubular bag in the dispensing aid while the roller passes over bag; and

FIGS. 5a and 5b are perspective views showing an embodiment of a tubular bag, namely a stick pack, which is preferred for use with the dispensing aid according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

An example and preferred embodiment of the dispensing aid according to the invention is shown in the drawing.

The dispensing aid in FIG. 1 comprises an extended simplified parallelepiped-shaped housing 1, which has an opening 2 on a small side or end, through which a tubular bag 3 in a stick pack format of a suitable length can be inserted so that the end through which its contents are dispensed remains protruding through the opening 2. The tubular bag 3 is filled with a semi-solid preparation, for example a gel. The dispensing aid has a slider 4 to be operated manually and preferably with a thumb, which is arranged on the upper side of the housing 1. The slider 4 has a partially grooved or rippled top surface 5 in order to improve the grip of thumb in operation. The slider 4 is connected with a roller 9, which is not shown in FIG. 1 and which is in the interior of the housing 1, by means of two side members 4a of the slider 4, which extend through slots 6 in the upper side of the housing 1. The slider 4 can be freely moved in the slots 6 over the middle portion of the housing 7. A retaining device, which is shown and described in more detail in the following description, covers the front end and the housing opening there.

FIGS. 2a and 2b only show the slider 4 with the rippled top surface 5 and the squeezing roller 9 moved by the slider and part of the housing. FIG. 2a shows how the squeezing roller 9 is mounted in the side members 4a of the slider 4 (Each side member forms a T-shaped structure with a guide bolt 10 engaged in a recess in the bottom of the “T”). The lateral guide bolts 10 are preferably made in one piece with the rest of the squeezing roller 9, e.g. by milling or injection molding. The U-shaped recess in the bottom of each side member 4a of the slider 4 acts as a slide bearing for the squeezing roller 9 and each side member 4a has a web-shaped overhang 11. This overhang 11 guarantees that the roller 9 does not immediately slip out from this slide bearing during gentle motion. Furthermore crosspieces 12 are arranged on the inner sides of both side members 4a of the T-shaped slider 4, whose operation cooperates with the housing as shown clearly in FIG. 2b.

FIG. 2b is a cross-sectional view through the housing 1 in its central region, at which point the slider 4 is located. The top part of the slider 4 provided with a rippled surface structure is connected with the side members 4a on opposite sides, which pass through the slots 6 and into the housing interior. The crosspieces 12 of the side members 4a slide along the interior side of the housing and are formed to hold the slider freely slidable in the track predefined by the slots 6, so that the slider 4 cannot be moved up and out from the housing 1. While the dispensing aid is held enclosed by one hand, the slider can be operated with the thumb of this hand. The displacement of the slider 4 corresponds advantageously to the distance, over which the thumb can easily pass. This distance amounts to 3 to 10 cm, preferably 4 to 7 cm. The crosspieces 12 are preferably triangular in shape. The housing 1 and the slider 4 are made from elastic plastic parts so that it is possible to press the separately made slider 4 from above into the guide track 6 during assembly of the dispensing aid until the triangular crosspieces bend the somewhat elastic sides of the housing out and pass through the slots 6. After that the slider 4 is permanently connected with the housing in a position in which it is used.

The free space between the crosspieces 12 and the middle part of the housing upper side 7 determines the mechanical play of the roller 9 with respect to the housing bottom or base 13. This play is selected so that the rear seal seam of the stick pack 14 can pass easily into the dispensing aid between the roller 9 and the housing bottom 13 on insertion of the stick pack 14 into the dispensing aid. On the other hand the roller and slider are designed so that the full surface of the roller 9 can be pressed against the housing bottom 13 in a completely reduced pressure pressing state when the housing is empty and without the stick pack.

The cutaway view in FIG. 3 shows the interior of the dispensing aid, in which a stick pack 14 has been inserted, with part of the housing 1 and the slider 4 removed. The squeezing roller 9 is shown twice, once in its initial position 15 and also once at its end position 16 to illustrate the operation of the dispensing aid. Only one roller is provided of course in the dispensing aid; FIG. 3 only shows the one roller in different positions. The stick pack 14 is correctly positioned on insertion in the housing by a slot-shaped opening 17 in the rear end 8 of the housing 1, when it is pushed into the slot-shaped opening 17 until at stop position 18. The special shape of the rear seal seam edge of the stick pack, which is shown in FIGS. 5a and 5b, guarantees that the stick pack 14 halts in the stop position 18. The seal seam widths at the front end and rear end of the stick pack are especially wide so that the squeezing roller 9 can sit or bear on it prior to the filled middle part 19 of the stick pack 14, so that the entire contents of the bag middle part will be pressed out or dispensed after completely rolling the bag from the initial position 15 to the end position 16 with the squeezing roller 9. Only the nose-like extension 20 of the bag lumen remains as a small dead volume, which cannot be completely pressed out by the roller 9.

So that the stick pack 14 is not pushed out from the housing 1 during the squeezing process with the squeezing roller 9, it can be mechanically retained in the housing interior. The retaining device for this purpose is illustrated in FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c. The rear seal seam of the stick pack 14 is partially pushed through the slot 17 in the rear wall 8 of the housing, where it protrudes from the slot 17 shown in the rear view of the housing in FIG. 4a. A retaining plate 22 with upper stop bosses 23 and lower stop bosses 24 on both sides is held in two angled retaining members 21 on the rear wall of the housing 1. When the stick pack 14 in the position according to FIG. 4a is conducted through the slot 17, the retaining plate 22 is pushed downward, so that the seal seam edge 25 protruding through the slot 17 is bent downward at a right angle and clamped between the retaining plate 22 and the housing 1, as shown in FIG. 4b. Devices, for example a roughened surface, grooved surface, grainy surface or rubber coating, can be applied to the inner surfaces of the retaining plate 22 and the lower edge 26 of the housing to increase the adherence and sliding resistance.

FIG. 4c shows an intermediate state between an open and closed retaining plate 22, in which the seal seam edge 25 is already partially clamped. The retaining plate 22 is pressed by the laterally positioned angular retaining members 21 fixed on the housing. The lower stop bosses 24 are preferably triangular. When the housing and the retaining plate are made of an elastic plastic material it is possible to press the separately made retaining plate 22 from above between the angular retaining members 21 during assembly of the dispensing aid, until the triangular stop bosses 24 pass between them while the angular retaining members 21 are bent out. After that the retaining plate 22 is permanently fixed in the position in which it is used on the housing.

A suitable embodiment of a tubular bag in the form of a stick pack 44 for use with the dispensing aid according to the invention is shown in FIGS. 5a and 5b. This stick pack 44 is characterized by especially wide seal seams 26. Recesses 27 are cut out of the rear edge of the rear seal seam 26. The still present portion of the rear edge is guided through the slot 17 in the rear end 8 of the housing 1 and fixed in position with the retaining plate 22. The rear edge with the recesses bears against the stop region of the housing interior, to avoid inserting the stick pack too far into the dispensing aid. In the front region the conventional applicator spout 29 is formed by a suitable sealing in stick packs for semi-solid preparations. This is especially long in stick packs formed especially for the dispensing aid and is small in order to keep the dead volume after rolling with the squeezing roller 9 as small as possible. The placement of the applicator spout in the center according to FIG. 5a can be advantageous in order to prevent contamination of the dispensing aid during dispensing through a lateral applicator spout as shown in FIG. 5b. The applicator spout or nose can be opened by tearing along the illustrated perforations 30.

The illustrated embodiment of the dispensing aid represents the preferred solution to attain the objects of the invention and can be complemented with further refining elements, as may result from the requirements of industrial manufacture or packaging. Especially representation of this embodiment was confined to a plain representation of only those features which are relevant for the functioning of the dispensing device. Particular structures of a given form and color for an article of this type would be understood by and can be left to one skilled in the art. This especially relates to the outer housing and the slider (see the figures).

A simplification of the otherwise the same embodiment, for example, can consist of the elimination of the roller in favor of a cylinder connected rigidly with the slider or a rounded non-rotatable squeezing or stroking member that is slidable over the bag. This simplification would of course lead to poorer sliding and squeezing properties of the slider, however these poor properties can still suffice, in order to guarantee the functioning of the dispensing aid according to the invention.

A further refinement of the dispensing aid could consist of a resilient mounting of the slider or the roller mounted on the slider with the goal of producing a perceptible resistance for the user with lower pressure of the slider and/or the roller so that the user can sense a concrete trigger pressure.

While the invention has been illustrated and described as embodied in a re-usable dispensing aid for a semi-solid preparation packaged in a bag, it is not intended to be limited to the details shown, since various modifications and changes may be made without departing in any way from the spirit of the present invention.

Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features that, from the standpoint of prior art, fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic or specific aspects of this invention.

What is claimed is new and is set forth in the following appended claims.