Hungry Valeant snags Eyetech in ongoing buyout spree

Valeant Pharmaceuticals today continued its restless buyout spree, snapping up Eyetech, a small FL-based company that sells the anti-VEGF pioneer Macugen in the U.S. And while Valeant ($VRX) didn't spell out the numbers, it carefully noted that it was forking out "significantly less than two times sales" for the company.

Macugen was the first anti-VEGF therapy approved for wet, age-related macular degeneration. It was developed by the original Eyetech, which was scooped up soon after the approval by OSI. But the treatment was quickly bested by Lucentis--an event that had been widely forecast by analysts--and a chastened OSI later spun off Eyetech in 2008 with a license to market the therapy in the U.S. Pfizer ($PFE), which acquired the ex-U.S. rights, recently made an effort to garner a fresh approval for the treatment to cover visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema. But the EMA batted down that attempt last summer.

"This acquisition of Eyetech will fit nicely with our existing ophthalmology business, which includes a preservative free Timoptic in Ocudose and Lacrisert, products obtained through our acquisition of Aton in 2010," said Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson. "The ophthalmology market has similar characteristics to the dermatology space and is a natural extension of our development capabilities. We will continue to look for future opportunities to acquire additional products and gain important critical mass in this specialty space."

Pearson has been hungrily snapping up biotechs, acquiring Biovail in 2010 and then a string of other companies. Each new buyout has been followed by the quick elimination of any overlapping operations, as Pearson underscored a few weeks ago when he vowed to slice $200 million in costs this year.

- here's the press release

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