Valeant Pharmaceuticals International has hit the acquisition trail again and is spending $2.60 billion to buy dermatology specialist Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp.

The Canadian drugmaker has made several acquisitions in the last couple of years but this is comfortably its biggest deal since losing out to Teva in a bid to buy Cephalon last year for $5.70 billion. Valeant is paying $44.00 per share in cash, which represents a 39% premium to Medicis’ closing share price on August 31 and a 31% premium to the three-month average trading price. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

For all that cash, Valeant will get a number of acne treatments, plus Dysport (abobotulinumtoxin A) for wrinkles and cervical dystonia, which competes with Allergan's Botox. Net revenue for the combined company’s dermatology and aesthetics businesses for 2012 is expected to exceed $1.70 billion within the USA.

Valeant expects to realise $225 million in annual cost savings within six months of closing the deal. The transaction, which is subject to approval by Medicis stockholders, should be signed off in the first half of 2013.

Valeant chief executive Michael Pearson said the acquisition of Medicis "represents a significant next step in our journey to become the leader in dermatology", strengthening its presence in acne, actinic keratosis, aesthetic injectables and antivirals. He added that Medicis’ "highly complementary portfolio of leading branded products and promising pipeline is a solid strategic fit".