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Novantrone, also recognized as mitoxantrone hydrochloride, belongs to a category of medicines identified as antineoplastics and is suggested for the treatment of pain related to advanced hormone-refractory prostate cancer and, in combination with other medications, for the initial therapy of acute nonlymphocytic leukemia in adults. Novantrone was initially approved in 1987 and appear to hinder the growth of cancer cells, which ultimately are destroyed.

In the year 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized Novantrone for treating individuals with advanced or chronic multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that damages the nervous system and can cause weakness, impaired vision, loss of balance, and poor muscle coordination. Novantrone is manufactured for Immunex Corporation, Seattle, Wash., by Lederle Labs.

The side effects of Novantrone include, but may not be limited to, nausea, hair thinning, loss of menstrual periods, bladder infections, shortness of breath, and mouth sores.

Individuals treated with Novantrone may develop heart problems, including congestive heart failure, which can be very serious and may cause death. The risk of heart disease intensifies with increasing the dose, and individuals with MS should generally not be given more than 8 to 12 doses dispensed over two to three years. Damage to the heart may take place at some stage in Novantrone therapy or years after treatment is completed. The professional labeling and patient information suggest that physicians carefully monitor their patients.   Patients are advised that regular testing of heart and blood is needed to help avoid serious side effects.