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Verge ESP: Let's talk money

Verge ESP: Let's talk money


Drug prices and the finance of streaming albums online

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So! Money doesn't really make the world go round, but it sure greases the skids in late capitalism. Take Mylan's EpiPen, which has parents and lawmakers up in arms. The injection is meant to halt anaphylactic shock in patients who may have encountered an allergen — so it's a crucial buy for a lot of people in back-to-school season. But its price has been steadily rising since 2007, when it was a little more than $100. Now a package of two pens retails for $609, and most of that price hike came in the last few years. Liz talks about pharmaceutical pricing, and why what Mylan's doing is standard-issue for the industry — right down to that expanded assistance program. Maybe it's time we stopped talking about individual expensive drugs and started talking about the industry as a whole.

Meanwhile, Frank Ocean finally dropped not one but two albums. The first, Endless, is a so-called visual album that fulfilled his contractual obligations to Def Jam (a part of Universal Music Group). The second, Blonde, came two days later — as an independent release. Endless is a streaming exclusive with Apple music; Blonde is an apple exclusive on Ocean's own Boys Don't Cry label. It looks like Blonde will trump Endless, in terms of revenue — and the debacle has been used as an excuse by UMG to halt all one-platform streaming exclusives. What's at stake here is revenue; streaming services often pay far less to labels than digital sales do. And, more, Ocean only got 14 percent of the share on Endless; Billboard reports he'll get 70 percent of Blonde. Emily considers whether that makes Apple Ocean's de facto record label, and what the future holds for online streaming services.