In a move designed to save more than $40 million, Salix Pharmaceuticals has approved the vesting of all unvested stock options at the firm.

Salix (Nasdaq: SLXP) said it was making the move since new accounting regulations require the expensing of stock options.

The move, which was carried out on Dec. 30, is expected to cut $16.2 million in stock-based compensation expense in 2006, another $14.6 million in 2007, some $9.4 million in 2008 and another $3.5 million in 2009.

Salix said it expected to take a $500,000 expense in the fourth quarter as a result.