Should gastro specialist Salix snap up Furiex and its IBS drug candidate?

Should Salix Pharmaceuticals ($SLXP) snap up its North Carolina neighbor Furiex Pharmaceuticals? The latter's bowel drug could slide right in to Salix's business, analysts said. And Furiex is scouting around for a potential buyer, Bloomberg reports.

Furiex recently rolled out new data on its irritable bowel syndrome drug eluxadoline, and is on track to apply for FDA approval in June. Salix has its own bowel meds, including the irritable bowel treatment Relistor. Analysts figure Salix has the know-how and resources to market eluxadoline, which could hit $700 million in sales within three years.

But Salix should get a move on, because Furiex also has a premature ejaculation treatment, Priligy, that could complement the portfolios of drugmakers with erectile dysfunction meds, one asset manager said.

"You could definitely see how this would be a logical fit for Salix," Scott Redmond, founder of Redmond Asset Management, told Bloomberg. "If I were advising Salix, I'd advise them to act quickly before any of the big pharma notice Priligy. Somebody ought to take them."

Salix is still in the market for deals, after agreeing to buy fellow specialty drugmaker Santarus in November for $2.6 billion. The Santarus deal will add a clutch of products to Salix's gastrointestinal portfolio, including the newly approved ulcerative colitis treatment Uceris and the stomach acid-reducing combination pill Zegerid.

Then again, this might not be the time for Furiex to find a buyer. "It's kind of a weird time to do a deal like that," Bloomberg Industries analyst Andrew Berens told the news service. "If you're submitting to the FDA right now, no large pharma company's really going to want to take that risk."

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