Title:
Dispenser For An Orally Dissolvable Strip
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dispenser for an orally dissolvable strip sandwiched between two layers of wrap material includes first and second generally parallel receiving spools for receiving the respective layers of wrap material, said receiving spools being spaced apart for the orally dissolvable strip and the layers of wrap material to pass therebetween. The first and second spools may be coupled to portions of the first and second layers of wrap material, respectively. A force transfer apparatus is configured to rotate the second spool when the first spool rotates. The dispenser includes a housing containing the first and second receiving spools, the force transfer apparatus, the orally dissolvable strip, and the layers of wrap material, the housing having a slot sized for the orally dissolvable strip to pass through, the means for rotating the spools being accessible from outside the housing.



Inventors:
Sheffield, Wanda (Stockton, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/187979
Publication Date:
02/11/2010
Filing Date:
08/07/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RANDALL, JR., KELVIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ream Law Firm, L.L.C. (OTTAWA, KS, US)
Claims:
1. A dispenser for an orally dissolvable strip sandwiched between two layers of wrap material, the dispenser comprising: first and second generally parallel receiving spools for receiving the respective layers of wrap material, said receiving spools being spaced apart for the orally dissolvable strip and the layers of wrap material to pass between; means for rotating said first spool; a force transfer apparatus configured to rotate said second spool when said first spool rotates; and a housing containing said first and second receiving spools, said force transfer apparatus, the orally dissolvable strip, and the layers of wrap material; said housing having a slot sized for the orally dissolvable strip to pass through; wherein said means for rotating is accessible outside said housing.

2. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein said means for rotating said first spool includes a rotatable knob operatively coupled to said first spool.

3. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein said force transfer apparatus includes at least one of a gear train, a pulley system, or a chain and sprocket system.

4. The dispenser of claim 1, further comprising a protective cap movably coupled to said housing to selectively expose and conceal said housing slot.

5. The dispenser of claim 4, wherein said housing is airtight when said cap conceals said housing slot.

6. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein: said first and second spools rotate only in opposed directions; and said force transfer apparatus is configured to rotate said second spool at generally the same speed as said first spool.

7. The dispenser of claim 1, further comprising first and second guide rollers in said housing adjacent said housing slot to direct the orally dissolvable strip outwardly through said housing slot, and wherein: a respective layer of wrap material passes over said first guide roller before reaching said first receiving spool; the other layer of wrap material passes over said second guide roller before reaching said second spool; and said first and second guide rollers are positioned to cause generally adjacent points of the two layers of wrap material to separate from the orally dissolvable strip at generally the same time.

8. The dispenser of claim 7, further comprising a protective cap movably coupled to said housing to selectively expose and conceal said housing slot, and wherein: said means for rotating said first spool includes a rotatable knob operatively coupled to said first spool; and said force transfer apparatus includes at least one of a gear train, a pulley system, or a chain and sprocket system

9. The dispenser of claim 8, further comprising: a first wedge positioned between said first guide roller and the orally dissolvable strip for separating one of the layers of wrap material from the orally dissolvable strip; and a second wedge positioned between said second guide roller and the orally dissolvable strip for separating the other layer of wrap material from the orally dissolvable strip; wherein said housing includes a coupling element for selectively coupling said housing to a housing of another dispenser.

10. The dispenser of claim 9, wherein: said first and second spools rotate only in opposed directions; and said force transfer apparatus is configured to rotate said second spool at generally the same speed as said first spool.

11. The dispenser of claim 7, further comprising: a first wedge positioned between said first guide roller and the orally dissolvable strip for separating one of the layers of wrap material from the orally dissolvable strip; and a second wedge positioned between said second guide roller and the orally dissolvable strip for separating the other layer of wrap material from the orally dissolvable strip.

12. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein said orally dissolvable strip includes at least one of a medication, a breath freshener, or a nutritional supplement.

13. An orally dissolvable strip and dispenser, comprising: an orally dissolvable strip sandwiched between first and second layers of wrap material; first and second generally parallel receiving spools for receiving the respective layers of wrap material, said first and second spools being spaced apart for said orally dissolvable strip and said layers of wrap material to pass between, said first spool being operatively coupled to said first layer of wrap material, said second spool being operatively coupled to said second layer of wrap material; a rotatable knob operatively coupled to said first spool for causing said first spool to rotate; a force transfer apparatus operatively coupled to said first and second spools and configured to rotate said second spool when said first spool rotates, said first and second spools and said force transfer apparatus being configured so that said first and second spools each receive a generally equivalent length of said wrap material when said first and second spools rotate; a housing containing said first and second receiving spools, said force transfer apparatus, said orally dissolvable strip, and said layers of wrap material; said housing having a slot sized for said orally dissolvable strip to pass through; and wherein said rotatable knob is accessible outside said housing.

14. The orally dissolvable strip and dispenser of claim 13, wherein said force transfer apparatus includes at least one of a gear train, a pulley system, or a chain and sprocket system.

15. The orally dissolvable strip and dispenser of claim 14, further comprising a protective cap movably coupled to said housing to selectively expose and conceal said housing slot.

16. The orally dissolvable strip and dispenser of claim 15, further comprising first and second guide rollers positioned in said housing adjacent said housing slot to direct said orally dissolvable strip out said housing slot, and wherein: said first layer of wrap material passes over said first guide roller before reaching said first receiving spoo, said first layer of wrap material being received by said first spool upon reaching said first spool; said second layer of wrap material passes over said second guide roller before reaching said second spool, said second layer of wrap material being received by said second spool upon reaching said second spool; and said first and second guide rollers are positioned to cause generally adjacent points of the two layers of wrap material to separate from the orally dissolvable strip at generally the same time.

17. The orally dissolvable strip and dispenser of claim 16, further comprising: a first wedge positioned between said first guide roller and said orally dissolvable strip for separating said first layer of wrap material from said orally dissolvable strip; and a second wedge positioned between said second guide roller and said orally dissolvable strip for separating said second layer of wrap material from said orally dissolvable strip; wherein said housing includes a coupling element for selectively coupling said housing to a housing of another dispenser.

18. The orally dissolvable strip and dispenser of claim 13, further comprising first and second guide rollers in said housing adjacent said housing slot to direct said orally dissolvable strip outwardly through said housing slot, and wherein: said first layer of wrap material passes over said first guide roller before reaching said first receiving spool; said second layer of wrap material passes over said second guide roller before reaching said second spool; and said first and second guide rollers are positioned to cause generally adjacent points of the two layers of wrap material to separate from the orally dissolvable strip at generally the same time.

19. The orally dissolvable strip and dispenser of claim 13, wherein said orally dissolvable strip includes at least one of a medication, a breath freshener, or a nutritional supplement.

20. The orally dissolvable strip and dispenser of claim 13, further comprising: a release material situated between said orally dissolvable strip and said first layer of wrap material; and a release material situated between said orally dissolvable strip and said second layer of wrap material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to pharmaceutical dispensers and, more particularly, to a dispenser that stores and dispenses orally dissolvable strips.

For many years, most prescription and over-the-counter medications have been dispensed in pill or liquid form. Pill medication, of course, is typically dispensed in bottles although it may also be dispensed in foil packages. More recently, however, pharmaceuticals have been provided in the form of orally dissolvable strips. Each thin strip dissolves very quickly on a consumer's tongue and is then absorbed into the body.

Orally dissolvable strips have typically been dispensed as a stack of strips packaged in a box, each medicinal strip being sandwiched between thin strips of plastic so as to maintain purity and to keep the strips from sticking to one another. Although assumably effective for their intended use, the traditional packaging of orally dissolvable medicine strips requires a user first separate one strip from others in a stack, peel the plastic separator strips away from a respective medicine strip, and then to dispose of the separate films.

Therefore, it would be desirable to have a dispenser for delivering orally dissolvable strips. Further, it would be desirable to have a dispenser that automatically separates a medicine strip from the plastic separator strips as the medicine strip is dispensed. In addition, it would be desirable to have a dispenser that collects the separator strips after they have been separated from the medicine strip and the medicine strip has been dispensed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A dispenser for an orally dissolvable strip sandwiched between two layers of wrap material, includes first and second generally parallel receiving spools for receiving the respective layers of wrap material, said receiving spools being spaced apart for the orally dissolvable strip and the layers of wrap material to pass therebetween. The first and second spools may be coupled to portions of the first and second layers of wrap material, respectively. A rotatable knob may be coupled to the first spool for actuating the spools. A force transfer apparatus is configured to rotate the second spool when the first spool rotates. The dispenser includes a housing containing the first and second receiving spools, the force transfer apparatus, the orally dissolvable strip, and the layers of wrap material, the housing having a slot sized for the orally dissolvable strip to pass through, the means for rotating the spools being accessible from outside the housing.

Therefore, a general object of this invention is to provide a dispenser for selectively dispensing an orally dissolvable medicine strip.

Another object of this invention is to provide a dispenser, as aforesaid, that separates the medicine strip from the wrapping strips between which the medicine strip is sandwiched.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a dispenser, as aforesaid, that collects the wrapping strips for later disposal.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a dispenser, as aforesaid, in which all components are held within a protective housing.

A further object of this invention is to provide a dispenser, as aforesaid, that is cost-effective and user-friendly.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein is set forth by way of illustration and example, embodiments of this invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a dispenser of an orally dissolvable strip with a cap in an open configuration;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the dispenser as in FIG. 1 with a cap in a closed configuration;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the dispenser as in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is another perspective view of the dispenser as in FIG. 2 with a front wall removed for clarity;

FIG. 5 is a rear view of the dispenser as in FIG. 2 with a rear wall removed for clarity;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of multiple dispensers being coupled together;

FIG. 7A is a rear view of the multiple dispensers as in FIG. 6; and

FIG. 7B is an isolated view on an enlarged scale of a coupling element of the dispensers taken from FIG. 7A.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A dispensing apparatus will now be described in detail with reference to FIG. 1 through FIG. 7b of the accompanying drawings. More particularly, a dispenser 100 for an orally dissolvable strip 10 sandwiched between first and second layers of wrap material 15a, 15b includes first and second receiving spools 110a, 110b for receiving the respective layers of wrap material 15a, 15b. The orally dissolvable strip 10 may include a medication, a breath freshener, or a nutritional supplement, for example, and a release material (e.g., a food-grade powder) may be between the orally dissolvable strip and the layers of wrap material 15a, 15b. The wrap material 15a, 15b may be constructed from plastic, wax paper, parchment paper, or other appropriate materials.

As shown in FIG. 3 and FIG. 5, the spools 110a, 110b are generally parallel to one another and spaced apart for the orally dissolvable strip 10 and the layers of wrap material 15a, 15b to pass between. The first spool 110a may be operatively coupled to the first layer of wrap material 15a (i.e., the layer of wrap material between the first spool 110a and the orally dissolvable strip 10), and the second spool 110b may be operatively coupled to the second layer of wrap material 15b (i.e., the layer of wrap material between the second spool 110b and the orally dissolvable strip 10). Posts 112 may receive the spools 110a, 110b so that the spools 110a, 110b are rotatable about the posts 112, and means for rotating the first spool 110a may be included. For example, a rotatable knob 114 may be operatively coupled to the first spool 110a. Devices that convert linear motion to rotational motion and devices that use electronic motors may similarly be used.

As shown in FIG. 3 through FIG. 5, a force transfer apparatus 116 (e.g., a gear train, pulley system, chain and sprocket system, etc.) is configured to rotate the second spool 110b when the first spool 110a rotates. The first and second spools 110a, 110b and the force transfer apparatus are collectively configured so that the first and second spools 110a, 110b each receive a generally equivalent length of the wrap material 15a, 15b when the first and second spools 110a, 110b rotate. For example, the first and second spools 110a, 110b may be of generally equivalent size, and the force transfer apparatus 116 may be configured to rotate the second spool 110b at generally the same speed as the first spool 110a. In at least one embodiment (as shown in FIG. 5), the first and second spools 110a, 110b rotate only in opposed directions.

A housing 120 (shown throughout the drawings) contains the receiving spools 110a, 110b, the orally dissolvable strip 10, the layers of wrap material 15a, 15b, and the force transfer apparatus 116. The housing 120 has a slot 122 sized for the orally dissolvable strip 10 to pass through (FIG. 2), and the means for rotating the first spool 110a is accessible outside the housing 120. A protective cap 125 may be movably coupled to the housing 120 to selectively expose (FIG. 2) and conceal (FIG. 1) the housing slot 122. In some embodiments, the housing 120 is airtight when the cap 125 conceals the housing slot 122. As shown in FIGS. 6 through 7b, the housing 120 may include at least one coupling element 126 for selectively coupling the housing 120 to a housing 120 of another dispenser 100.

First and second guide rollers 130a, 130b (FIG. 4 and FIG. 5) may be in the housing 120 adjacent the housing slot 122 to direct the orally dissolvable strip 10 out the housing slot 122. The first layer of wrap material 15a may pass over the first guide roller 130a before reaching the first receiving spool 110a, and the second layer of wrap material 15b may pass over the second guide roller 130b before reaching the second receiving spool 110b. The first and second guide rollers 130a, 130b may be positioned (e.g., adjacent to one another) to cause generally adjacent points of the two layers of wrap material 15a, 15b to separate from the orally dissolvable strip at generally the same time. A first wedge 140a may be positioned between the first guide roller 130a and the orally dissolvable strip 10 to aid in separating the first layer of wrap material 15a from the orally dissolvable strip 10, and a second wedge 140b may be positioned between the second guide roller 130b and the orally dissolvable strip 10 to aid in separating the second layer of wrap material 15b from the orally dissolvable strip 10, as shown in FIG. 5. The first and second wedges 140a, 140b may be in the housing 120.

In use, the user opens the cap 125 (FIG. 2) and causes the first spool 110a to rotate, such as by using the rotatable knob 114. The force transfer apparatus 116 causes the second spool 110b to rotate when the first spool 110a rotates. As the spools 110a, 110b rotate, the first layer of wrap material 15a is separated from the orally dissolvable strip 10, pulled around the first guide roller 130a, and wrapped around the first spool 110a. Similarly, the second layer of wrap material 15b is separated from the orally dissolvable strip 10, pulled around the second guide roller 130b, and wrapped around the second spool 110b. The guide rollers 130a, 130b position the orally dissolvable strip 10 and the layers of wrap material 15a, 15b and cause the orally dissolvable strip 10 to proceed out the slot 122 as the layers of wrap material 15a, 15b are wound around the spools 110a, 110b. The wedges 140a, 140 may help in guiding the orally dissolvable strip 10 out the slot 122 and/or may help separate the wrap material 15a, 15b from the orally dissolvable strip 10. By collectively configuring the first and second spools 110a, 110b and the force transfer apparatus so that the first and second spools 110a, 110b each receive a generally equivalent length of the wrap material 15a, 15b when the first and second spools 110a, 110b rotate, the orally dissolvable strip 10 may be moved effectively through the housing 120 and out the slot 122, and the wrap material 15a, 15b may be orderly wrapped around the spools 110a, 110b. After the orally dissolvable strip 10 passes through the slot 122 and is separated from the dispenser 100, the cap 125 may be closed (FIG. 1).

As shown in FIGS. 6 through 7b, multiple dispensers 100 may be coupled to one another (e.g., by the coupling elements 126) if desired. This may be desirable, for example, to keep different orally dissolvable strips 10 (e.g., different medications, different nutritional supplements, different flavors of breath freshener, etc.) together.

The dispenser may be discarded after the orally dissolvable strip 10 is entirely removed from the housing 120, or the housing 120 may be reusable. For example, a cassette holding the orally dissolvable strip 10, the layers of wrap material 15a, 15b, the first and second receiving spools 110a, 110b, and the first and second guide rollers 130a, 130b may be replaceable by opening the housing 120.

It is understood that while certain forms of this invention have been illustrated and described, it is not limited thereto except insofar as such limitations are included in the following claims and allowable functional equivalents thereof.