Faes Farma has linked up with Hikma Pharmaceuticals to sell the Spanish drugmaker’s experimental oral allergy drug bilastine in the Middle East and North Africa.

Under the terms of the agreement, financial details for which were not disclosed, the Jordanian-based firm which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, has gained exclusive rights to bilastine for 17 MENA countries. Faes has reserved co-marketing rights in some of the countries.

Hikma chief executive Said Darwazah said the agreement “reinforces our position as the partner of choice for marketing branded products in the MENA region”. The antihistamine market in the region, which has a population of 270 million, is worth approximately $115 million and has been growing at a rate of 13%, according to IMS Health figures

Hikma said that it expects annual bilastine sales of over $10 million from the MENA territory, adding that further licensing deals with Faes for other products are in the pipeline.

News of the tie-up comes less than a month after Faes said that it was in talks with Pfizer with regards to a possible link-up for bilastine, as well as with other companies. The Bilbao-headquartered group filed the drug for approval in Europe in February for the treatment of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and chronic idiopathic urticaria.

Faes also recently signed an agreement with Merck Serono to sell the drug in India and linked up with Italy's Menarini in December 2007 to market bilastine in 51 countries, including the European Union.