Nestle Health Science has agreed to acquire Prometheus Laboratories, a San Diego, USA-based company that specialises in diagnostics and in-licensed specialty pharmaceuticals in gastroenterology and oncology.

Prometheus particularly focuses on conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis "and has a dedicated team of highly qualified medical sales representatives", says Nestle Health Science. It has about 500 employees in total and by 2012, expects to have annualised sales of around $250 million.

The financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed but Dow Jones news wire quoted Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy as saying that the price tag is over $1 billion. Luis Cantarell, Nestle Health Science's chief executive, said the acquisition is "a strategic move into gastrointestinal diagnostics". He added that buying Prometheus "will enable new personalised healthcare solutions based on diagnostics, pharma and nutrition".

Nestle Health Science only began operations in January but in February it bought the UK's CM&D Pharma, a small London-based company that focuses on medical foods and whose leading product is Fostrap, a chewing gum for kidney patients who have an elevated level of phosphate in the blood.