Medeva plc, the largest British supplier of human vaccines, hasacquired two hepatitis B products from Epitec Ltd. and GAInvestments SA.

Worldwide rights to a vaccine for the viral disease and atreatment for chronic hepatitis caused by the B virus, werepurchased for $6.6 million, plus $9.2 million to be paid uponsuccessful completion of development and registrationmilestones in certain European countries.

The vaccine candidate is in late clinical testing and, according tothe company, results show it could give earlier protection oflonger duration than competing products. The vaccine alsoappears to protect those who fail to respond to existingvaccines.

Medeva (AMEX:MDV) said it will probably seek a partner tohelp develop the hepatitis treatment.

SmithKline Beecham, marketing a Biogen (NASDAQ:BGEN)product, dominates the world market for the vaccine, whileMerck, with Chiron Corp.'s vaccine, holds a majority of the Green Cross markets a vaccine in Japan.

Medeva shares closed at $49.25, down 63 cents on Thursday.Chiron stock (NASDAQ:CHIR) fell $1.63 to $49.88. Biogen fell 25cents to $29.50. -- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D.

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