Pierre Fabre has signed a deal with Faes Farma to co-market the Spanish firm’s antihistamine bilastine in France and Belgium.

The compound is under review in Europe for the treatment of allergic rhinitis and chronic idiopathic urticaria and a Faes spokeswoman told PharmaTimes World News that it hopes to get approval in September. France is the biggest antihistamine market in Europe, and Belgium is seen as a potentially good area of growth for bilastine.

Mariana Soroa, responsible for investor relations at the Bilbao-headquartered group, said that the German health agency (BfARm), which is acting as the European Medicines Agency rapporteur for bilastine, has informed Faes that there are no technical concerns about the drug. It is taking longer to approve than expected, though that has been prinicipally due to the workload at the BfARm, she added, and the company has pencilled in launches for the first quarter of 2011.

As well as the Pierre Fabre link-up, Faes has a host of other marketing agreements in place with a number of partners. A deal was signed with Italy's Menarini in December 2007 to market bilastine in 51 countries, including the European Union and a year ago, Jordan’s Hikma Pharmaceuticals gained exclusive rights to sell the drug in 17 Middle East and North African countries.

Merck Serono is signed up to sell the drug in India and agreements are also in place with Pfizer (Mexico), Nycomed (Brazil) and Vianex (Greece).

Meantime, back to Pierre Fabre, and the Castres-based firm has announced that Jean-Pierre Garnier has “concluded his mission” and is stepping down as chief executive on September 1.

Mr Garnier, best-known for his tenure at the helm of GlaxoSmithKline, said that the company “is in excellent health, and is poised to experience a bright future; I am glad to have contributed to its success”. The group’s founder, Pierre Fabre, praised Mr Garnier for his “commitment and the excellent work performed” and stated that “his contribution over the past two years has been of the utmost benefit to the company”.

A new CEO will be announced “in the near future”.