THIS PAPER is the first published account describing the therapeutic use of a new antidiarrheal agent, malethamer, in infants and children.
Malethamer is the generic name of a new synthetic hydrocarbon copolymer with extraordinary water-binding properties, being able to absorb 200 times its weight of water. In the laboratory, it will physically and chemically bind poliovirus 1 and certain bacterial enterotoxins.1 In studies using different molecular weights of ethylene maleic anhydride copolymers, Feltz and Regelson2 have shown that a high molecular weight material (120,000 molecular weight) similar to malethamer is effective for the in vitro inhibition of echovirus 9. The copolymer is not absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is pharmacologically inert. Laboratory studies also indicate that large doses of malethamer have little, if any, effect on the electrolytic balance of normal rats and dogs. Therefore, in view of these encouraging initial laboratory studies, this drug deserved