Abbott laboratories announced Wednesday that it has received FDA approval to beginmarketing its second-generation test to detect antibodies to the hepatitis C virus.

The test, Abbott HCV EIA 2.0, replaced Abott's single-antigen test, which was approvedin 1990. The test detects antibodies to three hepatitis C components. It will be used byblood banks to screen blood donors and by laboratories for the diagnosis of HCV patients.

In March the FDA gave marketing approval to Chiron Corp.’s HCV test, which ismarketed by Ortho Diagnostic Systems. Chiron (NASDAQ:CHIR) of Emeryville, Calif., makesall three antigens for the Ortho test and two of the antigens for the Abbott test.

Chiron shares dropped 63 cents to $46.63.