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FDA approves Novartis drug for rare iron disorder

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Novartis drug to treat a rare genetic disorder that causes an overload of iron in the blood.

The FDA cleared Novartis' drug Exjade to treat patients 10 and older with a form of thalassemia, which affects about 1,000 people in the U.S. The disorder can lead to internal organ damage.

Patients with traditional thalassemia often require red blood cell transfusions to replace the protein that carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream.

Novartis' drug is for patients with a milder form of the condition known as non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia. These patients do not require frequent blood transfusions.

The FDA approved the drug in combination with a diagnostic test that measures iron concentration in the liver.

Novartis is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland with U.S. offices in East Hanover, N.J.