Sweden's Meda has denied rumours that Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, which is very firmly on the acquisition trail, has made a $4 billion-plus bid for the firm.

The Gothenburg-based group was responding to a report in the Wall Street Journal that Valeant has made a takeover approach within the past two weeks. The story said that Meda's market capitalisation stands at around $3.4 billion, so a premium of 30% would push its value into the region of $4.4 billion.

Meda has acted fast and its board of directors issued a statement saying it has "not received an approach of the kind that is described in the article". However, it did note that "there are several collaborations" already in place between the two firms.

Back in August 2008, Meda and Valeant have agreed to form joint ventures in Australia, Canada and Mexico that are majority owned by the Swedish firm. These JVs include marketing pacts on products such as the insomnia drug Sublinox (zolpidem) and the analgesic flupertine.

They were set up just after Meda agreed to buy Valeant’s businesses in western and eastern Europe (excluding its operations in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) for $392 million in cash.

Also, the recent US approval of Valeant and GlaxoSmithKline's  epilepsy tablet Potiga (ezogabine) triggered a milestone payment of $6 million to Meda which had licensed the drug to the former. As recently as June, Meda out-licensed exclusive North American and Mexican rights to two dermatology products, Elidel (pimecrolimus) and Xerese (acyclovir and hydrocortisone cream) for an initial payment of $76 million.

Rumours of a takeover bid are not terribly surprising, given that Valeant has been splashing the cash of late. This month, it has paid $345 million for Johnson & Johnson's Ortho Dermatologics and bought Sanofi's Dermik skincare business for $425 million. In May, it agreed to pay 314 million euros in cash for AB Sanitas, a branded generics specialist from Lithuania.