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The government has approved the first drug specifically for Crohn's disease, a painful inflammation of the digestive system that affects about 1 million Americans.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday it was licensing infliximab as the first medication for Crohn's. The drug also is being tested for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a bone-deterioration disease.

Part of a new class of drugs, infliximab blocks the action of a natural protein that can promote inflammation.

Infliximab was developed by Centocor of Malvern, Pa., and will be marketed under the brand name Remicade.

Christopher Allman, a spokesman for Centocor, said the drug will be distributed late in September and should be available for prescriptions by early October.

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