February 24, 2015 / 1:02 PM / 3 years ago

Shire buys Meritage Pharma for at least $70 mln

LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Dublin-based drugmaker Shire said on Tuesday it had bought U.S. firm Meritage Pharma for at least $70 million, boosting its gastrointestinal drugs business.

Shire said it had obtained rights to buy privately-held Meritage in connection with its $4.2 billion acquisition of rare disease specialist Viropharma in 2014. The fee could rise if development and regulatory milestones are reached, it said.

The deal comes after Valeant Pharmaceuticals International sealed a $10.1 billion acquisition of gastrointestinal drugmaker Salix Pharmaceuticals on Sunday, and said this week it planned to strike further smaller deals.

Shire had taken initial steps to acquire Salix and was working with advisers on a potential offer, according to people familiar with the matter.

Shares in Shire were down 0.4 percent at 5170 pence at 1232 GMT. (Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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