The wonder drug ivabradine costing just 1.40 pound a day dramatically slashed the number of deaths from heart failure, researchers have found.
The pill which is now available to British patients, could save the lives of tens of thousands of sufferers from one of the most common heart conditions each year.
AdvertisementIt would also save the NHS millions by cutting hospital admissions by a quarter.
One expert who has been involved in the drug's trials hailed it as "fantastic news for both patients and doctors," the Daily Express reported.
"This will have a huge impact up and down the country," said Professor Martin Cowie, consultant cardiologist and specialist in heart failure at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.
The drug has already been used in angina patients in the UK for years and is known to be safe.
But now it has been approved by the European Medicines Agency for use in treating those with heart failure, a devastating condition that affects 900,000 people in this country.
This EMA approval is an important step in the drug - ivabradine, which is also known under the brand name Procoralan - being licensed in the UK for widespread use in the NHS.
The medicines watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, is considering the trial data, with a licensing decision expected later this year.
In the meantime, it can only be prescribed at the discretion of individual primary care trusts or specialist cardiologists in hospitals. Trials have shown that Procoralan slashes the number of deaths by 39 per cent, suggesting that 39,000 lives could be saved.
It also cuts hospital admissions by 24 per cent, which is set to significantly reduce the 625 million pounds, a year in healthcare costs that heart failure amounts to for the NHS - a possible annual saving of more than 100million pounds.
New trial involving 6,505 people in 37 countries including the UK also found that Procoralan could also cut the risk of death from all types of cardiovascular disease by 17 per cent.
The drug, which is made by Servier, works by slowing the heart rate. Unlike other treatments, it lowers heartbeats per minute without lowering blood pressure.
"Heart failure is a very common problem, affecting approximately 1 per cent of the population. The decision to approve this new indication for ivabradine is great news for both doctors and patients, and is a significant step forward," said Professor Cowie.