Valeant buys Visudyne drug from QLT; QLT stock jumps

TORONTO (Reuters) - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc said on Monday it has acquired Visudyne, a drug used to treat age-related blindness, from Canadian biotech firm QLT Inc for $112.5 million.

QLT’s shares jumped 7.4 percent after Montreal-based Valeant said it paid $62.5 million for all U.S. rights and available inventories for Visudyne, and a further $50 million upfront for rights to non-U.S. royalties from the drug, which treats abnormal growth of leaky blood vessels in the eye caused by age-related macular degeneration.

Activist investors took control of QLT’s board in June. In July, the new board announced the departure of the incumbent chief executive, and said QLT would cut 70 percent of its workforce and explore opportunities to partner or sell its Visudyne business.

“We are excited about the opportunity to add a complementary product to our growing ophthalmology business,” Valeant Chief Executive Michael Pearson, said in a statement.

Visudyne was QLT’s main revenue generator in the early 2000s, but it has lost market share in recent years following the entry of rival products such as Novartis AG’s Lucentis.

Valeant said the drug generated U.S. revenue of about $21 million in 2011. It also generated about $14 million in royalties outside of the United States during the year.

Valeant has been on the acquisition trail since its 2010 takeover by Biovail Corp, which assumed the Valeant name. The company has favored business lines where patients often pay out of pocket, including opthalmology and dermatology, reducing its exposure to cost-sensitive insurers.

In early September, Valeant announced a $2.6 billion deal to buy top U.S. dermatology drugmaker Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. The acquisition is set to boost Valeant’s debt, and Pearson said then that other deals in 2012 would likely be smaller.

QLT’s stock rose 7.4 percent to C$7.96 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. Valeant was up 0.4 percent at C$53.55.

($1=$0.98 Canadian)

Reporting by Euan Rocha and Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway