After dropping ISTA, Valeant nabs another eye-drug company

So what if Valeant Pharmaceuticals wasn't able to pull off its bid for ISTA Pharmaceuticals? It's snapping up Eyetech instead. The Canadian drugmaker ($VRX) agreed to pay "significantly less than two times sales" for Eyetech, which markets Macugen, the first anti-VEGF therapy approved for wet AMD.

The buyout is just Valeant's latest deal; CEO J. Michael Pearson has been on the acquisition trail virtually nonstop since the new Valeant was born from its merger with Biovail. In fact, the eye-drug business Pearson wants to beef up was acquired in its 2010 buyout of Aton. That company brought glaucoma treatments Ocudose and Lacrisert to the party.

And the ophthalmology business suddenly is a party, what with Novartis' ($NVS) buyout of the eye-care giant Alcon, Roche's ($RHHBY) burgeoning list of Lucentis approvals, and Regeneron's ($REGN) recent launch of another anti-VEGF drug, Eylea. Indeed, Regeneron just hiked its 2012 forecast on Eylea to $250 million to $300 million, 14% more than previous forecasts, Reuters reports.

"This acquisition of Eyetech will fit nicely with our existing ophthalmology business," Pearson said in a statement. "The ophthalmology market has similar characteristics to the dermatology space and is a natural extension of our development capabilities."

Pearson's referring to the dermatology business Valeant built up last year, with its $425 million buyout of Sanofi's Dermik unit and a $345 million deal for Johnson & Johnson's Ortho Dermatologic.

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