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Valeant offers $2.6bn to buy dermatology firm Medicis

Possible further addition to long list of Canadian pharma firm’s acquisitions

Valeant Pharmaceuticals has signed a deal to acquire Medicis Pharmaceutical in a $2.6bn deal that will bolster its dermatology business.

The acquisition is the latest and largest in a string of transactions by Canada's largest healthcare company as it builds a portfolio of specialty pharmaceutical businesses, and comes just weeks after it announced the $312m purchase of oral healthcare company OraPharma.

Valeant has agreed to pay $44 per share for Medicis, valuing the US firm at $2.6bn, and will strengthen its position in "acne, actinic keratosis, aesthetic injectables and antivirals, among others," according to the company's chief executive Michael Pearson.

Medicis' main products include Restylane - a hyaluronic acid-based filler used to smooth facial wrinkles which competes with Johnson & Johnson's Juvederm - and Dysport (abobotulinumtoxinA), a rival to Allergan's Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) that is also used for cosmetic applications as well as medical indications such as cervical dystonia.

It also sells acne drugs Solodyn (minocycline) and Ziana (clindamycin) and reported second-quarter sales of $197m, down slightly on the $202m it made in the first-quarter but ahead of expectations.

Valeant said that pro forma sales of the combined company's dermatology businesses would top $1.2bn in the US alone, with annual cost synergies of $225m within six months of the transaction's close, which is expected in the first half of next year.

Just this year Valeant paid $27m for footcare specialist Pedinol Pharmacal, acquired nutraceutical firm Swiss Herbal Remedies for an undisclosed sum, and bought Russian OTC company Natur Produkt for $180m. It also took a stake in Brazilian firm Pele Nova and acquired various branded generic products from Austria's Gerot Lannach.

Valeant was however rebuffed in attempts to buy eyecare specialist Ista Pharmaceuticals in February - with its target eventually merging with Bausch & Lomb - and biopharma firm Cephalon in 2011 which was bought by Teva in a $6bn deal.

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