A new clot-busting drug which costs a little over €1 per tablet dramatically cuts the risk of dying after a heart attack.
Brilique (ticagrelor) taken with aspirin is designed for people who have been admitted to hospital after a heart attack or an episode of unstable angina.
The drug works by preventing the formation of new blood clots and maintaining blood flow to the heart.
Compared with another commonly-used treatment, clopidogrel, the drug cuts the risk of dying by 21pc, and of suffering another cardiovascular event such as a heart attack by 16pc in the following 12 months.
The drug costs ¤60 for a pack of 56 tablets.
"Ticagrelor is the latest in an ever-increasing number of important new drugs and interventional techniques that have been shown to reduce deaths in patients with acute coronary syndromes," said Dr Carole Longson of the UK's health technology evaluation centre.
"From the evidence considered, the independent appraisal committee concluded that, compared with clopidogrel, reductions in heart attack and death from vascular causes were significant -- 16pc and 21pc respectively -- for patients randomised to the ticagrelor group."
Patients stay on the drug, made by AstraZeneca, for up to a year. Side-effects include gastrointestinal bleeding, although there was no difference between ticagrelor and clopidogrel when it came to risk of major bleeding.
Kausik Ray, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at St George's research centre in London, said: "Despite current treatment options, one in seven patients will die within 12 months following a heart attack.
"Ticagrelor has been demonstrated to reduce a patient's likelihood of dying from an acute coronary event, or having another heart attack or episode of unstable angina in comparison to the current standard of care, clopidogrel.
"The provisional recommendations issued by National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence means that we are one-step closer to ensuring this life-saving medicine is available for the thousands of patients who could benefit from its use."