NEW YORK (AP) _ Abbott Laboratories has agreed to pay nearly $7 billion in cash for the Knoll Pharmaceutical unit of BASF AG, the Wall Street Journal reported on it Web site Thursday.

According the newspaper, Chicago-based Abbott will pay $6.9 billion for the company, which is expected to be announced Friday.

Knoll is expected to post $2.1 billion in sales this year, mainly because of its Meridia obesity treatment drug and its thyroid drug, Synthroid.