Patent Certificate: D. P. Wagner, Medication Dispensing Device

Description (Brief)
David P. Wagner received this patent (number 3,143,207) for “medication dispensing means” on August 4, 1964. Wagner was prompted to invent the device when he and his wife had trouble remembering if she had taken her daily birth control pill. The patent covered a variety of uses for a device that “aids the taking of a medication by an individual on an irregular schedule . . . readily synchronized with the menstrual cycle of the user . . . with an unmistakable visual indication as to whether the individual should take a pill . . . to dispense pills only one dose at a time . . . with the physical form of a novel device that can be reused indefinitely . . . in a case indistinguishable from a lady’s cosmetic ‘compact’ and adapted to be carried among the personal effects of a lady in a purse without giving a visible clew [sic] as to matters which are no concerns of others.”
Wagner’s patent covered both a circular design and a rectangular calendar design. It addressed three big issues with the packaging of the Pill: discretion, compliance, and reusability. Wagner tried to sell his patent to Ortho and Searle and was rebuffed by both. Later, when Ortho introduced the DialPak, Wagner successfully defended his patent, and Ortho paid him $10,000 not to sue and a small fee for every DialPak produced afterwards.
Wagner also negotiated licensing agreements with Searle, UpJohn, Eli Lilly, and Mead Johnson. Over the life of his patent, Wagner estimated he netted about $130,000.
Wagner donated his patent certificate, patent models, original drawings, licensing agreements, and correspondence to the Smithsonian in 1995.
Currently not on view
Object Name
patent certificate
date made
issued to
Wagner, David P.
Patent Office
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 30.5 cm x 20.3 cm; 12 in x 8 in
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Health & Medicine
Birth Control/Contraception
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of David P. Wagner
Additional Media

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