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Valeant sees ophthalmology opportunity with Eyetech buy

World News | February 14, 2012


Kevin Grogan

Valeant sees ophthalmology opportunity with Eyetech buy

Having withdrawn an offer to buy Ista Pharmaceuticals at the end of last month, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International has agreed to acquire another eye specialist, this time Eyetech.

Eyetech is a privately-owned ophthalmic biotech which focuses on treatments for sight-threatening diseases of the retina. Financial terms of the deal have not been specified but Valeant said it is making an upfront payment and potential future milestones "that total significantly less than two times sales". 

Eyetech currently markets Macugen (pegaptanib) in the USA, the first anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor approved for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. The drug is sold elsewhere by Pfizer.

Valeant chief executive Michael Pearson said the acquisition of Eyetech "will fit nicely with our existing ophthalmology business", which includes glaucoma products obtained through the firm's purchase of Aton in 2010. He added that "the ophthalmology market has similar characteristics to the dermatology space and is a natural extension of our development capabilities". 

Mr Pearson went on to say that the Canadian drugmaker "will continue to look for future opportunities to acquire additional products and gain important critical mass in this specialty space". Just before Christmas, Valeant's $6.50 per share offer, which valued Ista at $314 million, was dismissed as "grossly inadequate" by the latter and though it raised the bid to $7.50 per share, the firm decided not to pursue the deal at the end of January.

A fortnight ago, Valeant bought Brazil's Probiotica Laboratorios for 150 million Brazilian reals (about $86 million). The Sao Paulo-based group, which specialises in over-the-counter sports nutrition products and other food supplements, had revenues of 80 million reals in 2011.

Strong showing for Regeneron's Eylea

Staying with ophthalmology and the USA's Regeneron Pharmaceutials saw its stock climb after saying that it expects US sales of Eylea (aflibercept), approved by the Food and Drug Administration in November for wet AMD, to reach $250-$300 million this year. This is up from a previous estimate of $140-$160 million.

The company noted that for the fourth quarter, revenues came in at $123.0 million, including $24.8 million from Eylea, which is partnered with Bayer. That figure comes from being on the market for only about six weeks.

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