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 NEW YORK, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Appearing before the New York Society of Securities Analysts today, Epitope announced Adolph J. Ferro, president and chief executive officer of Epitope Inc. (AMEX: EPT) discussed the status of the company's efforts to commercialize its technologies. A summary of his comments follows:
 Second Site For Fresche Blossoms Fresh Flowers Packaging To Be
 Opened In Charlotte
 "We have now completed the introduction of our proprietary Fresche Blossoms line of packaged fresh flowers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. The product line -- featuring long-lasting fresh flowers which do not require refrigeration or water at the retail store -- has now been sold in a variety of retail settings including grocery stores, mass merchants and convenience stores. With a three-holiday order from a major national retailer for fiscal 1994 and a successful test market in several grocery store chains in the southeast, we are opening our second processing facility in Charlotte, N.C.," said Ferro. "We plan to open the Charlotte plant in January and have it fully operational for the Valentines Day rush." He noted that the Fresche Blossoms line addresses the $2 billion segment of the U.S. cut flower market served by grocery stores and retail outlets other than florists.
 Vinifera Grape Biotechnology Unit Seeks Additional Funding For
 California Expansion
 Ferro told the analysts that the company's Vinifera Inc. subsidiary has developed sufficiently to be established as a distinct entity. Vinifera has received grape plant orders for delivery in 1994 and 1995 amounting to approximately $500,000 and representing 50 percent of current production capacity. To serve the $75 million U.S. grape plant market adequately, Vinifera intends to expand production to California in order to have more plants available for 1996 and beyond. It takes three years to take a plant from the micropropagation laboratory to the customer's field. Ferro noted that the company is currently contacting prospective investors to provide Vinifera with up to $7.5 million in exchange for up to 40 percent of Vinifera's common stock.
 Agritope Meets New Milestones In Genetic Engineering Of Fruits and
 "Last year we complete our first field of trials of tomatoes containing the company's proprietary gene which achieves longer shelf- life of this fragile fruit. This year, field trials were expanded as we worked with Rogers NK, Calgene and Archer Daniels Midland. We also commenced greenhouse evaluations of cauliflower with our first strategic partner, Sakata Seed," said Ferro. "We were successful in inserting our gene in strawberry and raspberry plants and have in-house greenhouse evaluations underway."
 Medical Products Division Continues To Develop International
 Ferro outlined the company's progress in putting together a system to distribute it OraSure(R) oral specimen collection device overseas. Epitope has entered into agreements in China, Thailand and Indonesia. The company also is distributing OraSure for use by insurance companies through subsidiaries of Home Office Laboratory in Canada and the United Kingdom. At the meeting, the company also announced its newest agreement which covers Japan.
 "We have formed a 60 percent-owned limited liability stock company, Epitope K.K., to market OraSure in Japan. Our partner in this venture, Sigma-Seiki Inc., a manufacturer of diagnostic equipment, has commenced steps to obtain governmental approvals for sale of OraSure in the country," Ferro said.
 FDA Application For OraSure Still Under Review; Meeting With Staff
 Set For Nov. 10
 Epitope has been working with the FDA to address remaining issues with respect to its application to market its OraSure device in the United States for the detection of HIV infection, Ferro told the group. He noted that the FDA staff has scheduled a meeting with company representatives on Nov. 10 to review the status of the application.
 "We believe that we have presented the FDA with the information necessary to support approval of our application and we welcome the opportunity to sit down with the staff and discuss our submission. There is a critical need for a non-invasive, painless method of screening for HIV in the United States," said Ferro. He pointed to a study published in the October 1993 edition of the American Journal of Public Health which noted that, among 287 African-Americans in New York City, 8.4 percent were infected with HIV, but 75 percent of those persons were unaware of their status prior to participating in the study. The study concluded, "This is a clear signal for the urgency in undertaking community education to increase awareness of the benefits of early diagnosis both for reducing transmission risk and for improving, through early detection, the quality of life once infection occurs."
 Warrants Expected To Be Issued In The Last Half Of November
 "On Nov. 4, the U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., was requested to approved distribution of warrants to purchase 700,000 shares of Epitope's common stock. The warrants entitle recipients to purchase shares for $17-1/8 per share. If the distribution is approved, the warrants are expected to expire on March 2, 1994. If all warrants are exercised, the company will receive proceeds of almost $12 million," Ferro stated. The shares were issued in settlement of a class action shareholders unit that resulted in a $1.4 million noncash charge to net income in fiscal 1993. All cash required for the settlement was provided by the company's insurance carrier. Ferro told the group that, while the company still maintains that the lawsuit was without merit, the settlement was attractive in that it placed the company in a better cash position than if it had prevailed in the action.
 Losses Continue, But Recent Warrant Exercises Improve Cash Position
 At the close of the meeting, Ferro reported on recently released financial results. For the year ended Sept. 30, 1993, Epitope lost $14.7 million ($1.67 per share). Cash on hand amounted to $8.6 million at year end. In addition, the company has received over $2 million in proceeds from the exercise of outstanding warrants and stock options in the weeks since the year closed.
 -0- 11/8/93
 /CONTACT: Mary Hagen of Epitope, 503-641-6115/

CO: Epitope Inc.; Vinifera Inc. ST: Oregon IN: MTC SU:

RB-JH -- SE005 -- 1800 11/08/93 13:07 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 8, 1993

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