DUBLIN, Ireland Trinity Biotech plc has sold its U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) pregnancy test business to Applied Biotech Inc., of San Diego, for US$3 million.

The test is the subject of an ongoing patent dispute with Becton Dickinson & Co., of Franklin Lakes, N.J., and Unilever plc, of London. As part of the deal, Trinity has assigned its legal interest in these cases to Applied Biotech¿s parent company, Sybron International Corp.

Dublin-based Trinity stands to garner an additional $750,000 in earnings if Applied Biotech is successful in cross-licensing its patent to Becton and Unilever.

The U.S. OTC pregnancy business was worth more than $6 million in annual revenues to Trinity, according to chief financial officer Jonathan O¿Connell, but the business was relatively low-margin. Applied Biotech, which had originally co-developed the test with Disease Detection Inc., a company acquired by Trinity in 1994, held U.S. manufacturing rights to the product, which was distributed by Warner-Lambert Co., of Morris Plains, N.J.

Acquisitions Offset Revenue Loss

The loss in revenues from the product is offset by Trinity¿s recent spate of acquisitions, all of which it can sell at higher margins. The company acquired four product lines this year, two of them during October.

It paid Syva Company a San Jose, Calif.-based subsidiary of Dade Behring Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., a subsidiary of Dade Behring Inc. $10.2 million in cash and loan notes for the Microtrak product line, which consists of two tests for chlamydia, plus additional tests for cytomegalovirus, herpes and gonorrhea. The chlamydia tests account for about 85 percent of the product line¿s total sales, O¿Connell said. The complete product line delivered ex-works revenues of $7 million last year, according to Trinity.

Earlier last month, Trinity acquired Waltham, Mass.-based Selfcare¿s HIV business, which had 1997 revenues of $3.2 million, in a transaction valued at approximately $4.5 million. In September, it acquired a predictive test for premature atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease from Strategic Diagnostics Inc., of Newark, Del. Terms were not disclosed, but Trinity said the product would yield annual sales in excess of $1 million. In July, Trinity paid Boston-based Diatech Inc. $2 million in cash and loan notes for a range of hormone and drugs-of-abuse tests that delivered revenues of $1.6 million last year.

Trinity now plans to bed down these acquisitions. No other deals are on the immediate horizon. ¿It¿s very much a case of trying to consolidate what we¿ve brought in,¿ O¿Connell said.