Novartis (NYSE:NVS) has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of children with its leukemia drug Gleevec, the regulator announced today. The drug, a form of the company's existing medication Glivec, may now be prescribed to children diagnosed with a type of lymphoblastic leukemia.

The affliction occurs when a genetic abnormality causes certain proteins stimulating bone marrow to produce an excessive amount of immature white blood cells. This is the most common type of cancer in children, striking nearly 3,000 every year. It worsens rapidly if left untreated.

Gleevec was first approved in 2001 to treat certain forms of the disease; approval has since been expanded to cover other types.

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