Legislation Would Award Prizes for Breakthroughs in Research, Detection and Cures
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) announced her support today for legislation to create prize-based incentives that encourage more public-private collaboration in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia. The Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s (EUREKA) Act would not replace other funding and research initiatives for Alzheimer’s but add another route for breakthroughs. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and is also cosponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
“The EUREKA Act offers an innovative approach to preventing and treating Alzheimer’s, which affects far too many of our families,” said Senator Capito. “Through public-private partnerships and leveraging the smartest ideas with research at the National Institutes of Health, we can better understand, identify and eventually cure this devastating disease.”
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has set a goal of curing Alzheimer’s by 2025. Today, Alzheimer’s 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 are expected to grow to an estimated $1.1 trillion by 2050. In West Virginia, 12 percent of senior citizens have Alzheimer’s, and the number of victims is expected to rise 22.2 percent by 2025, increasing from 36,000 to 44,000.
The EUREKA Act would authorize the Director of the NIH to work with other federal agencies to establish prize challenges informed by the research milestones contained in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. Challenges could focus in a number of areas including:
· Identification and validation of Alzheimer’s biomarkers.
· Development of non-invasive and cost-effective early detection and diagnostic tools.
· Repurposing of existing drugs to address Alzheimer’s disease.
· Development of new tools and approaches to care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease.
An advisory council that would include experts in organizing and managing such challenges as well as patient advocates and industry representatives will be constituted to determine the competitions, while a separate judging panel will evaluate submissions and make recommendations for awards to the Director of NIH.
Prize challenges enable government sponsors to pay only when a prize team achieves specified goals or milestones. While funds will be authorized and reserved for awards, prizes will only be granted when teams achieve clearly defined objectives, making the EUREKA Act a cost-effective tool to support the pursuit of the 2025 goal. Additionally, the EUREKA Act would permit the receipt of donations from the private sector and from individuals to fund the competition and build the award fund.