North American Biologicals Inc. (NABI) announced Thursdaythat it has acquired Abbott Laboratories' H-BIG (hepatitis Bimmune globulin), a proprietary plasma-based product to treathepatitis B.

Under the terms of the deal, Abbott will receive 2 million NABIshares -- amounting to about 16 percent of NABI's outstandingshares -- and royalties from NABI based upon sales of theacquired products. NABI stock (NASDAQ:NBIO) closed Thursdayat $3.69 a share, up 38 cents.

In addition, Miami-based NABI will get exclusive rights toacquire HIVIG, an AIDS product developed by Abbott.

NABI said it is the world's largest independent provider ofhuman blood plasma elements to the health care industry. Thedeal with Abbott for H-BIG will also allow NABI to produceimmune globulin products, said David Gury, NABI's president.

"It'll be an extension of our basic business," he said. "As it is,we collect the raw material and have been supplying this inpart to Abbott to make H-BIG in the past."

Immune globulin products are plasma-based products thatcontain a natural range of antibodies produced in the bodyagainst a particular infectious disease. The worldwide marketfor immune globulin products is more than $500 million.

H-BIG, which was licensed in 1977 and is the first hepatitis Bimmune globulin to be produced, provides passive immunityfrom exposure to hepatitis B. With sales of about $5 million peryear, H-BIG is a high-margin pharmaceutical product for NABI,Gury said, even considering that royalties will be extended toAbbott.

According to Gury, safety studies of the HIVIG product, whichmay prevent the transmission of AIDS from HIV-positivemothers to unborn infants, are complete and the compound isscheduled to be part of a National Institutes of Health studyinvolving 400 HIV-positive women starting soon.

With a newly diversified product portfolio, NABI will focus onexpanding H-BIG's existing uses and will continue to developother highly specialized immune globulin products similar to H-BIG, Gury said.

-- Michelle Slade Associate Editor

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