Oops. Back in June, I sort of, um, laughed off the idea that analysts might look at Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) acquisition of Vicuron as the beginning of some sort of larger trend toward more M&A activity in the biotech space. I'm not sure how many deals you need to see before you can call it a trend, but maybe we're in the midst of one after all.

The latest entrant is Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and its purchase of Canada's ID Biomedical (NASDAQ:IDBE). Glaxo will be paying $35 Canadian per share for Glaxo, or about $29.50 U.S., by my math. All told, then, it will be roughly a $1.4 billion deal and a 13% premium to ID Biomedical's closing price yesterday.

Why the deal? Vaccines, my friends, vaccines. Glaxo wants to expand its vaccine business, and ID Biomedical has some appealing technology and infrastructure that should lead to future returns. And this deal is mostly about the future -- ID Biomedical's Fluviral vaccine is still awaiting FDA approval (albeit on the fast track) and likely won't be available until the '06 flu season. What's more, the Canadian biotech is in the midst of a manufacturing expansion that will allow the company to produce about 75 million flu doses in 2007.

Beyond Fluviral, the company has many other irons in the fire, including vaccines for streptococcal, meningococcal, and pneumococcal infections, as well as for potentially weaponized diseases like plague and anthrax. Longer term, the company also has pre-clinical efforts aimed at vaccines for allergies and asthma, as well as therapies for infections and Alzheimer's.

Certainly, it's not as though Glaxo is completely deficient in the vaccine game. The company received approval for its Fluarix vaccine at the end of August. But this sort of deal will augment its present technology and perhaps make it a more formidable player amongst the likes of Chiron (NASDAQ:CHIR) and Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY). Certainly, Glaxo had better hope this deal augments its vaccine business, because ID Biomedical is not going out cheap.

Unlike a lot of biotech deals where the philosophy is "pay now and hope to get paid back later," ID Biomedical should produce real returns fairly promptly. It's unrealistic to expect that all of the biotech's clinical programs will bear fruit, but it does look like Glaxo has secured a solid asset in the vaccine industry.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson owns shares of Sanofi-Aventis. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.