Faes Farma has signed a deal with Italy’s Menarini which will see the latter sell the Spanish firm’s investigational oral allergy drug bilastine in over 50 countries.

Faes says that in exchange for licensing the rights to bilastine, it will receive undisclosed payments from Menarini, plus average royalties of 10%-15% of annual sales. The deal covers the 27 countries in the European Union and a further 24 in eastern Europe, Scandinavia, central Asia and the Mediterrenean.
It also allows Faes to grant second licenses for bilastine in those countries with “an appropriate market potential”, if Menarini is in agreement.

The Bilbao-headquartered firm’s president, Eduardo Fernandez de Valderrama, said that “this agreement is crucial”, because besides the revenues and cross-licensing opportunities, Menarini, through its “reputation and consistency” in delivering excellent sales results, is the ideal partner for bilastine. Faes recently announced a licensing deal for the drug, a selective antihistamine receptor antagonist which has successfully completed Phase III trials for the prevention of allergic rhinitis, with Yuhan Corp, one of South Korea’s leading pharmaceutical firms.

Now, Mr Fernandez de Valderrama noted, “we will concentrate our efforts during 2008 to select the best partner in the large Asian markets as Japan, India, and China” though this will “surely require a long and delicate negotiation process”. A licensing deal for bilastine in the North American market is already in place with Inspire Pharmaceuticals.