GlaxoSmithKline is taking out its cheque book again, this time to buy Nasdaq-listed Praecis Pharmaceuticals for just shy of $55 million.

The drug major is offering $5 per share, giving a total of $54.8 million in cash, which is more than double the latter’s closing price on December 20. A tender offer will begin in early January and close in the first quarter of 2007.

Explaining the rationale behind the deal, Allen Oliff, GSK's senior vice president of molecular discovery research, said that "Praecis has created novel therapeutic programmes and innovative chemical-synthesis and screening technology that will complement our own discovery capabilities."

Praecis has a MetAP-2 inhibitor, PPI-2458, in clinical development for cancer indications, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and solid tumours, and what it describes as "an innovative drug discovery technology," DirectSelect, which enables the generation and practical use of ultra-large libraries for the discovery of orally active compounds. It is also running an R&D programme aimed at identifying one or more selective S1P-1 agonist compounds to advance into clinical testing.

As for GSK, it has been a very busy week for deals, having signed a £1.1 billion alliance with Denmark’s Genmab for the latter’s cancer and arthritis compound, HuMax-CD20, and a technology pact with Illumina.

Deal reached on generic Imitrex

Meantime, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals says that a US District Court has, at its request, dismissed patent litigation with GSK relating to a generic version of the latter’s migraine treatment Imitrex (sumatriptan injection), allowing it to move forward under the settlement agreement signed with GSK in November.

The deal means that Spectrum and partner Par Pharmaceuticals will be able to launch their version of sumatriptan injection around the summer of 2008.