France’s Ipsen is shelling out around $450 million in three deals in a bid to build a “fully-fledged commercial presence in North America”.

Firstly, the company is buying the remaining shares in US marketing partner Tercica it does not already own (it currently holds a 25.3% stake) for about $404 million or $9 per share in cash to boost its presence in endocrinology. The price is more than double the level that Tercica’s shares closed at yesterday.

Secondly, Ipsen is acquiring the US subsidiary of the troubled UK firm Vernalis which gives it the North American rights to Apokyn (apomorphine) for Parkinson's disease. Initially the French group is paying out $12.5 million to get access to “an established and highly experienced neurology commercial team”, who already market Apokyn to neurology specialty physicians, “many of which are potential prescribers” for Dysport (botulinum toxin type A).

The latter drug was initially developed for the treatment of movement disorders such as cervical dystonia, blepharospasm hemifacial spasm and various forms of muscle spasticity. However, it is now under review in the USA, branded as Reloxin, to treat wrinkles and is a potential rival to Allergan’s Botox.

Finally, Ipsen also announced that it is buying Octagen, a US firm which specialises in haemophilia and other genetic disorders. Its most advanced project, now in Phase II, is OBI-1 which involves the development of recombinant porcine Factor VIII (rpfVIII) and is already being advanced in collaboration with Ipsen. Cashwise, Ipsen is making an upfront payment of $10.5 million, while additional milestones could potentially reach $26 million.

Chief executive Jean-Luc Belingard said the deals represent “another very significant step in the strategy to globalise our fast growing specialist care franchise”. He added that with a “fully- fledged commercial infrastructure” in North America, Ipsen will be able “to seize the opportunities to expand” in the world’s largest pharmaceutical market and leverage its “existing rich R&D pipeline”.

Mr Belingard concluded by saying that “these landmark transactions represent a cost-effective way to enter the North American market by creating a US platform with the potential to generate sales in excess of $300 million in 2012 and close to $1 billion by the end of the next decade”.

However investors do not seem to share Mr Belingard’s confidence and at 10.30 this morning, Ipsen’s shares were down 10% to 38.95 euros, amid fears that the firm is paying too much.