Spain’s Faes Farma has signed a licensing deal in South Korea for its investigational oral allergy drug bilastine.

The agreement is with Yuhan Corp, one of South Korea’s leading pharmaceutical firms which already has collaborations in place with the likes of Wyeth, Janssen, GlaxoSmithKline and Schering-Plough. Under the terms of the deal, Faes will receive 1.2 million euros, plus double-digit royalties over sales.

The agreement also includes an option for the commercialization of Yuhan’s antiulcerant revaprazan by Faes in Spain and Portugal. The proton pump inhibitor was launched in 2006 in the Korea and the two firms say its indications are being extended in order to commercialise it internationally.

Faes said the deal is important “not only for the quality of the partner” but also because it involves a market that has “very strict approval standards”. The firm’s president, Eduardo Fernandez de Valderrama, added that the pact is particularly important because it is the first one Faes has signed in Asia, and it “will open the way for bilastine in many other countries in the area”.

The agreement joins the one signed in 2006 with Inspire Pharmaceuticals for the commercialization of bilastine in North America and Faes added that it is making progress with licence agreements for Europe, Japan and other countries in Asia and Latin America. The Korean deal comes in the wake of another agreement which has recently been signed with the USA’s Jazz Pharmaceuticals for the Bilbao-headquartered firm’s investigational antidepressant flufenoxine, which is just finishing preclinical trials.

Jazz will be in charge of all clinical development and regulatory dealings for the product, and will market the drug in the USA, Europe (except Spain and Portugal) and Asia. Faes, which recently posted nine-month net profits of 19.5 million euros (+2%) on flat sales of 140.3 million euros, will receive 2.6 million euros over three years plus development payments and royalties marketed. Last month it acquired fellow Spanish firm Ingaso, which specialises in nutrition and animal health, for almost 20.3 million euros as part of its strategy to diversify into other segments of the health sector.