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Epitope Announces OraQuick Development Agreement With Organon Teknika - Dublin, Ireland

    BEAVERTON, Ore., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Epitope, Inc. (Nasdaq: EPTO)
today announced that it has completed an agreement with Organon Teknika Ltd.
of Dublin, Ireland, a subsidiary of Akzo Nobel, regarding Epitope's
OraQuick(R) oral fluid rapid assay for the diagnosis of HIV.  The agreement
calls for Organon Teknika to collaborate with the company on the final
development of the OraQuick product and to manufacture the initial
pre-production lots of the device at its facilities in Dublin, Ireland.
Epitope and Organon Teknika intend to negotiate a long-term manufacturing and
supply agreement for this product on the successful completion of this
development phase.
    OraQuick is a one-step, rapid-format oral specimen testing system designed
to provide test results within ten minutes.  The company believes that
OraQuick has significant potential as a rapid test for professional use, and
possibly as a home-based test for various other conditions in addition to HIV.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that over 25 percent
of people tested for HIV at publicly funded clinics did not return for their
test results, and that rapid tests would enable health-care providers to
supply definitive negative and preliminary positive results to patients at the
time of testing, potentially increasing the overall effectiveness of
counseling and testing.
    Organon Teknika has substantial expertise in the development and
manufacture of similar lateral flow rapid tests, and has already begun work on
the OraQuick project.  Organon Teknika's U.S. subsidiary currently
manufactures and distributes the HIV-1 screening test which is approved by the
FDA to be used with Epitope's OraSure(R) oral fluid collection device,
supplies the antigen used by Epitope to manufacture the Western blot HIV-1
confirmatory test and also distributes the Western blot product for Epitope.
    John W. Morgan, Epitope's president and CEO, commented, "Epitope is in the
final stages of development of the OraQuick product, with pre-clinical trials
expected to start within a month.  The company considers OraQuick to be a
significant new platform technology with potential application beyond HIV
testing.  We believe that a rapid-format oral fluid test has the potential to
address problems presently associated with tests that do not provide immediate
preliminary results and other rapid tests which rely on finger-stick blood
testing."
    Epitope, Inc. is an Oregon-based corporation that develops and markets
medical devices and diagnostic products.  Its focus is on products that use
oral fluid in the detection of HIV infection, with emphasis in the life
insurance and public health markets, and drugs of abuse and other analytes.
    Statements in this press release about future sales levels or other future
events or performance are forward-looking statements.  The company's actual
results could be significantly different.  Factors that could affect results
include the extent of future use of oral fluid testing with OraSure in the
insurance industry or other key markets; loss or impairment of sources of
capital; ability of the company to develop product distribution channels;
ability of the company to develop new products; development of competing
products; changes in international, federal or state law or regulations;
uncertainties related to customers' and suppliers' ability to achieve year
2000 compliance; and loss of key personnel.  Although forward-looking
statements help to provide complete information about the company, readers
should keep in mind that forward-looking statements are much less reliable
than historical information.

Source: EPITOPE Inc.


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