Britain's healthcare cost-effectiveness watchdog has recommended Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer's new pill Eliquis for preventing blood clots after hip and knee surgery, following a fast-track review.

The final draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) comes just six months after Eliquis was licensed in Europe, marking an unusually rapid decision by the agency that determines which drugs are paid for on the state health service.

Eliquis will compete in the post-surgery setting with established injectable anti-coagulants, such as Sanofi's Lovenox, as well as other new oral anti-coagulants like Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto and Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa.

These other drugs are also recommended by NICE for use after hip and knee replacement procedures.

However, the really big commercial opportunity for new anti-clotting pills lies in their long-term use for preventing strokes in patients with irregular heartbeats. So far, only Pradaxa has been approved in this setting in Europe, although Xarelto was recommended for approval in September.

NICE said the cost of Eliquis treatment was estimated to be 41.16 pounds for knee replacement surgery, based on 12 days of treatment, and 116.62 pounds for hip replacement, based on 34 days.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)