By Nick Mihalopoulos, RPh, PhD
In the late 1950's, I was attending graduate school at the University Of Connecticut School Of Pharmacy where I became good friends with two of my fellow classmates. One friend was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at a young age, which later resulted in ileostomy surgery performed during graduate school at the Leahy Clinic. The problem he struggled with most was managing flatulence and the odor after emptying his ostomy pouch.
The team of friends went to the laboratory to find a solution.
Over a period of trial and error, we developed a chewable tablet used to eliminate the odor associated with flatulence. It worked so well that we wanted to put this over-the-counter medication on the market so that other ostomates could benefit as well. We named it Devrom®, found a manufacturer, created a label, and began to advertise. We knew that we had a unique product which could bring many people relief from embarrassing odors, so we decided to form the company Parthenon and began working on the distribution process. Things were going well until the business needed funding, so I offered to buy out the interest of the other two members. They said yes and I took the plunge as the sole owner of Parthenon.
This was a development that would forever change my life.
In 1974, I left my career as a clinical psychologist at a local hospital to devote 100% to Devrom® and Parthenon. There were many aspects to the business including working with the Food and Drug Administration to establish its safety and effectiveness. In 1979 Rupert Turnbull, M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic, Normal Gill enterostomal therapist, Don Binder managing editor of the Ostomy Quarterly and I traveled to Maryland to meet with the FDA. As a result, Devrom® is classified as a Level III over-the-counter drug. This classification means that the product moved into the safest class of drugs for use as an effective internal deodorant.
Drug names are always interesting and while some names seem like a jumble of letters, Devrom actually means something. “DE” means to remove and “VROMA” translated from Greek means bad odor. It was original, obvious and a perfect fit.
How does Devrom® work?
Historically, bismuth subgallate has been used to ameliorate gastrointestinal disorders more specifically odor from gas and stool. It may act in one of two ways: by reducing the number of odor producing anaerobic microbes or by directly interacting with sulfur containing compounds to neutralize the odor produced.
Devrom® has recently been featured in Mary Roach’s GULP: Adventures of the Alimentary Canal and it’s currently involved in a study with bariatric patients. Anyone can use Devrom® to control flatulence odor and post-op bariatric patients sometimes have significant problems with smelly stool and flatulence odor.
The Parthenon Company continues to offer Devrom® both as a chewable tablet and capsule. Because our primary market began with the ostomy community, we had requests for other ostomy supplies and as a result Parthenon is a nationwide distributor of all major ostomy brands. We’ve developed additional products for our ostomy customers that we are very excited about.
Parthenon has had a few relocations, but finally settled in Salt Lake City, UT at our current location for the past 35 years. For over 20 years, my son Jason has been involved in the business. We have traveled many places together and enjoy meeting ostomates from all over the world at the United Ostomy Associations of America events and Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society conferences. We’re a family business with family values, providing discount ostomy supplies for over 50 years!