U.S. Bioscience Inc. announced on Tuesday that it has reachedan agreement with Marion Merrell Dow Inc. and U.S. HealthcareInc. that will slow the planned distributions by thosecompanies of more than 13 million shares of U.S. Biosciencecommon stock.

Plans by the corporate shareholders to sell their holdings wereannounced in February, just as the stock (AMEX:UBS) wasplummeting in response to an FDA advisory committee'srejection of the company's Ethyol drug.

MMD planned to sell its 6.6 million shares, representing 17percent of UBS shares outstanding. At the same time, U.S.Healthcare, which spun off U.S. Bioscience in 1987, announcedthat it planned to distribute 6.7 million shares to U.S.Healthcare shareholders.

At the time, Philip Schein, UBS chairman and CEO, called onMMD not to sell, saying, "I hope they would not act in a waythat exerts any more pressure on the stock."

Marion Laboratories Inc. bought the shares in 1989 with aneye to acquiring the West Conshohocken, Pa., company as agateway into the oncology market. But the idea was droppedwhen Marion merged with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Under the agreement announced Tuesday, MMD will withdrawits registration statement, according to Robert Kriebel, seniorvice president of finance and administration at UBS. MMDagreed not to proceed with its distribution until U.S. Healthcaredistributes its shares.

U.S. Healthcare will make its distribution before Aug. 4, Kriebelsaid.

The stock lost 13 cents Tuesday to $12.13. It had been tradingat $31.50 before the Ethyol decision.

-- Steve Usdin BioWorld Washington Bureau

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.