A large manufacturing plant scheduled to open soon in Elkton has become the focal point of a nationwide battle among America's suppliers of hypodermic needles and syringes.

Owned by the Terumo Medical Corp., the American division of Tokyo-based Terumo Corp., the facility is gearing up to produce enough disposable injection and blood collection devices to satisfy more than 20 percent of the nation's annual demand.By the time the plant begins operating in August, many analysts expect to see widespread price-cutting throughout the industry as competitors move to counteract Terumo's acknowledged efforts to triple its market share in the United States.

Indeed, recent reports by industry analysts sent the stock of the nation's leading supplier of medical needles and syringes, Becton, Dickinson & Co., falling by more than 10 percent as the company's earnings estimates were lowered in anticipation of the Terumo facility's impact on the market.

Terumo is "building a plant and there's more competition, and competition is not good" for Becton, Dickinson, said Kenneth Abramowitz, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein in New York. "I would think they'll fight very sharply in terms of product improvement and marketing to keep from losing market share."

Ronald Jasper, director of investor relations at Becton, Dickinson in Franklin Lakes, N.J., acknowledged that his company would be taking steps to offset Terumo's scaled-up production and marketing efforts, but he declined to be more specific.