Elan Corp. plc said Tuesday that it has reached an agreement inprincipal to acquire Vega Biomedical Inc. for $4.5 million.

The transaction is subject to a definitive purchase agreement,which will include provisions for milestone payments thatcould bring the total purchase price to $7.6 million.

The transaction would include $2.25 million in cash and $2.25million in about 50,700 newly issued shares of Elan commonstock (AMEX:ELN).

Vega markets an automated system for performing SED Ratetests, a widely used diagnostic for detecting protein imbalancesin blood. About 65 million such tests were performed in theUnited States in 1991. The diagnostic division of BaxterInternational Inc. is Vega's main U.S. distributor.

The Lincoln, R.I., company posted 1991 sales of about $2million and operating income of about $450,000.

Shares of Athlone, Ireland-based Elan closed at $54, up $1.63.

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