Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, which has hit the acquisition trail hard of late, has approached the USA's Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp about a possible sale, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Canadian drugmaker has made inquiries about buying Medicis, which specialises in dermatological and aesthetic products, notably acne treatments and Dysport (abobotulinumtoxin A) for wrinkles and cervical dystonia, which competes with Allergan's Botox. A deal would be consistent with Valeant's desire to become the world's biggest skincare player in five years' time.

Since failing in its bid to acquire Cephalon for $5.7 billion, Valeant has been on a spending spree. Last month, it paid $345 million for Johnson & Johnson's Ortho Dermatologics and bought Sanofi's Dermik skincare business for $425 million. There have also been rumours that Valeant has been looking at a bid for one of its partners, Sweden's Meda.

Medicis has been in the news of late, not least since the end of July when  the body of the girlfriend of chief executive Jonah Shacknai was found bound, nude and hanging from a balcony at his house. She was found just a couple of days after Mr Shacknai's young son had fallen down the stairs and sustained injuries from which he later died.

On a second-quarter conference call, Mr Shacknai said “I can’t or wouldn’t comment on any rumours in any transaction or business development areas". Medicis, which announced a stock repurchase plan of up to $200 million, noted that net income reached $28.8 million, down 21%, while revenues rose 10% to $190.8 million.