Abbott Laboratories announced Wednesday that it has receivedFDA approval to begin marketing its second-generation test todetect antibodies to the hepatitis C virus.

The test, Abbott HCV EIA 2.0, replaces Abbott's single-antigentest, which was approved in 1990. The test detects antibodiesto three hepatitis C components. It will be used by blood banksto screen blood donors and by laboratories for the diagnosis ofHCV in patients.

In March the FDA gave marketing approval to Chiron Corp.'sHCV test, which is marketed by Ortho Diagnostic Systems.Chiron (NASDAQ:CHIR) of Emeryville, Calif., makes all threeantigens for the Ortho test and two of the antigens for theAbbott test.

Chiron shares dropped 63 cents to $46.63.

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