Faes Farma has been dealt a blow with the news that partner Inspire Pharmaceuticals has terminated its licensing agreement for the Spanish firm’s investigational oral allergy drug bilastine.

Inspire held the US and Canadian rights for the development and commercialisation of oral bilastine for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. However chief executive Christy Shaffer says that the firm has made a “strategic business decision” to terminate the deal, signed in October 2006, and “focus our resources and capital investments on our other late stage development programmes and commercial activities”.

The Bilbao-headquartered firm’s president, Eduardo Fernandez de Valderrama did not seem too downbeat, however, and noted that as well as receiving $7 million since the agreement was signed, the collaboration between the two companies “has given us the opportunity to better understand the needs of the Food and Drug Administration and to start the complementary studies which might be required for authorisation in the USA”.

He added that Faes will now start negotiations “with several companies which recently showed their interest in the product” and work already done on preparing the bilastine dossier “will be of great help for us to choose a partner with a strong commercial presence in the US and Canadian market”.

Mr Fernandez de Valderrama went on to say that aside from the North American situation, “the international development of bilastine is very satisfying”. Faes recently signed a deal with Italy’s Menarini which will see the latter sell the drug in over 50 countries and an agreement has already been sealed with Yuhan Corp, one of South Korea’s leading pharmaceutical firms.

The Menarini pact allows Faes to grant second licences for bilastine in the larger European markets and contact has also been established with “several companies in Japan and the larger Asian countries”, the firm concluded.