Ventrex Laboratories Inc. has announced that it will sell ordiscontinue several of its rapid screening and quantitativeradioactive immunoassay products in order to focus on its coreallergy business.

The company will reduce its work force by 32 employees, or 17percent, and will take a one-time charge of $400,000 against itssecond-quarter earnings to cover severance and otherpayments. Ventrex will have 137 employees remaining.

The layoffs will save Ventrex $800,000 annually, comparedwith a loss of some $1 million in revenues from thediscontinued product lines.

Allergy products comprise 52 percent of Ventrex's revenues,with diagnostics accounting for 32 percent and therapeutics for20 percent.

Ventrex (NASDAQ:VTRX), of Portland, Maine, had a net loss of$19,000 on revenues of $3.6 million for the first quarter endedDec. 31.

The company said the decision to narrow its focus wasn'tconnected to the March announcement that Ventrex wouldmerge with Hycor Biomedical Inc. of Garden Grove, Calif. Thecompanies expect to sign a definitive agreement shortly, afterwhich Ventrex will convene a special stockholders meeting toapprove the merger. -- Karen Bernstein

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