DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Baxter International Inc. reported a $124 million third-quarter loss Thursday because of previously announced charges to cover litigation and the cost of abandoning work on its artificial blood product.

The loss, which translates to 43 cents per diluted share, compares with earnings of $159 million, or 56 cents a diluted share, during the third quarter of 1997.

Special charges aside, the leading medical technology company had an 11 percent growth in profits for the period ended Sept. 30. Before charges, Baxter earned $177 million, or 61 cents per diluted share, compared with $159 million, or 56 cents per share.

Revenues increased by 10 percent to $1.65 billion.

Baxter's shares were off $7.87 1/2, or 12 percent, to $57 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company said sales were particularly strong in blood therapies, especially for its genetically engineered blood clotting factor for people with hemophilia.

Sales also were strong for dialysis products and services for treating kidney disease, its tissue heart valves and repair products, its electronic intravenous infusion pump and anesthetic products.

The company took $309 million charges for the quarter, largely for abandoning its HemAssist artificial blood and to set aside money for lawsuits over hemophiliac and intravenous blood therapies and breast implants.

For the nine-month period, Baxter earned $103 million, compared with $118 million a year earlier.

Excluding the charges and special research and development costs, Baxter's net income rose 11 percent for the nine months to $520 million from $470 million, while earnings per diluted share increased to $1.81, up from $1.67. Sales for the nine months grew 6 percent to $4.8 billion.