Wicker Announces ‘EUREKA Act’ Proposal

Miss. Senator Outlines Innovative Approach to Funding Cure for Alzheimer’s

July 14, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced his intention to introduce an innovative proposal to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Wicker’s forthcoming legislation is titled the “Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s (EUREKA) Act.” The proposal would encourage private-public partnerships to award a prize for accomplishments in the field of Alzheimer’s research. The National Institute of Health has set a goal of curing the deadly disease by 2025.

“In terms of alleviating human suffering and saving money for the taxpayers, this is a critical moment,” Wicker said. “By 2050, more than a trillion dollars a year will be spent, mostly by taxpayers, to treat Alzheimer’s. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the House on my ‘EUREKA Act.’ It is time for us to consider alternate approaches to government-funded breakthroughs, and prize-based challenges are an excellent investment for the government. With the prize, you pay only for success.”

Wicker’s comments were made during a subcommittee hearing examining ways to incentivize cure development for deadly diseases. Witnesses at today’s hearing included former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Mr. Chris Frangione of XPRIZE, Mr. Peter Huber of the Manhattan Institute, and Dr. Keith Yamamoto of the University of California San Francisco.

Wicker has been working with Frangione and Dr. Peter Diamandis, chief executive officer of XPRIZE, as well as Us-Against-Alzheimer’s, to identify ways to encourage government support for new and innovative Alzheimer’s research through reward-based challenges.

Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive disease in America and has a 100 percent fatality rate. According to a report released earlier this year, caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is estimated to cost the United States $226 billion in 2015, with one in five Medicare dollars spent on an Alzheimer’s victim. Unless a cure is found, treatment costs will continue to rise, growing to an estimated $1.1 trillion by 2050.

In Mississippi, 12 percent of senior citizens have Alzheimer’s, and the number of victims is expected to rise 27.5 percent by 2025, increasing from 51,000 to 65,000.