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Vox Sentences: How did an EpiPen get to costing $600?

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The federal government rules that grad students at private universities are allowed to form unions; another drug pricing scandal; Nigeria (might have) (again) killed the head of Boko Haram.

“Student union” gets a whole new meaning

Getty / William Thomas Cain
  • The National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that graduate students at private universities have the right to form unions and bargain collectively. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • The decision doesn't affect grad students at public universities. Those grad students are public employees of their states (and therefore governed by state laws about public sector unions). [WSJ / Melanie Trottman]
  • This is the third time in 16 years the NLRB has ruled on this question: It ruled in favor of graduate students in 2000 (with board members appointed by Bill Clinton), then against them in 2004 (after board appointments from George W. Bush). [Bloomberg / Josh Eidelson]
  • At its core, the question is whether graduate students who work for the university (as teaching or research assistants, for example) are students or workers. [NPR / Richard Gonzales]
  • Tuesday's NLRB decision observed that they could be both — and that, as workers, they were entitled to unionize. [Inside Higher Ed / Scott Jaschik]
  • The decision, if it holds after the November elections, could cause universities to rethink the way they staff up — in recent years, universities have relied on adjunct professors and graduate students to do more and more of the teaching. [Washington Post / Danielle Douglas-Gabriel]
  • It would also be a reflection — as well as a potential spur — of the growing "white collarization" of the US labor movement. [LAT / Alana Semuels]
  • But depending on who's elected in November, it could easily be reversed again. Who knows? [Vox / Libby Nelson]


Bay Area News Group / Anda Chu
  • Since 2007, the price of an EpiPen — used to treat anaphylactic shock in allergy victims and people with asthma — has quietly risen 400 percent. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • Allergy sufferers have taken to using syringes for epinephrine injections, rather than using an EpiPen and incurring a $600 cost. [StatNews / Ike Swetlitz]
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is calling for an investigation into the price hike... [Sen. Charles Grassley]
  • ...while other senators are calling for investigations into reports that the executives at Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which makes EpiPens, gave themselves huge raises while hiking the drug's price. [NBC News / Ben Popken]
  • Awkwardly, the CEO of Mylan is the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). [NY Daily News / Christopher Brennan]
  • That's the tip of the iceberg. For Gizmodo, Matt Nowak lays out how the federal government (Congress and the FDA alike) helped make EpiPens a $1 billion industry. [Gizmodo / Matt Nowak]
  • This may remind you of the controversy over the cost of the drug Daraprim, and the vulture capitalist turned pharmaceutical exec Martin Shkreli who jacked up its price. But the problem with that controversy was that Shkreli, while all too happy to play the villain, wasn't the cause of the problem. [Pacific Standard / Ted Scheinman]
  • The cause is the system. In America, this is simply how drug pricing is allowed to work. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]

Nigeria hopes the fourth time's the charm

AFP / Philip Ojisua
  • The government of Nigeria claims it has mortally wounded Abubakar Shekau, the head of Boko Haram, in what it described as a "most unprecedented and spectacular" air raid. [AP / Michelle Faul]
  • Take it with a grain of salt. Nigeria has claimed to have killed Shekau on three previous occasions — only to have him show up, embarrassingly, in Boko Haram videos. [WSJ / Gbenga Akingbule]
  • The timing of the raid is also suspect. It came just as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Nigeria for a counterterrorism-themed visit. [Al Jazeera]
  • Kerry committed to increase military aid to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram; the US is also considering allowing the country to buy American attack jets. [Reuters UK / Lesley Wroughton]
  • But Kerry reiterated longstanding US concerns that the Nigerian government is using counterterrorism as an excuse to trample human rights. [NYT / Chris Stein and Dionne Searcey]
  • He also warned that Nigeria will need to restore citizens' faith in government — something gruesomely illustrated Monday, when eight people were burned to death by a mob over religious tensions. [AFP]


  • Donald Trump campaign chair Steve Bannon once wrote a rap musical adapting the Shakespeare play Coriolanus to the 1992 LA riots. [The Daily Beast / Asawin Suebsaeng]
  • The death toll in the Philippines's government/vigilante drug crackdown has now reached 1,800. [Reuters / Karen Lema]
  • Oklahoma man Stanley Majors has been charged with a hate crime in the murder of his neighbor Khalid Jabara. The murder came after years of Majors's racial slurs and verbal abuse toward the Jabara family. [AP]
  • When Donald Trump was self-funding his campaign, he charged $35,458 in rent for its office in Trump Tower. When donors started funding it, he raised the rent to $169,758. [Huffington Post / S.V. Date]
  • Add "the cute Twitter thing where countries have individual citizens take over their accounts for a week" to the list of nice things we can't have because of racism. [The Telegraph / Mark Molloy]


  • "'That shouldn't be the first question that you ask me when we ask for a rape kit,' Daniel said, his voice rising in anger." [Cosmopolitan / Jillian Keenan]
  • "It was hard to act like a hero in thong panties, but I didn’t have an ounce to spare for briefs." [NYT / Sarah Deming]
  • "Do you even know how much rich people fucking loved to eat turtles?" [Eater / Matt Buchanan]
  • "Research had been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask you to spend your evening doing things that correlate with student success." [Click2Houston]
  • "This chick is just tougher than Chinese algebra." [Cher via NYT / Jonathan Martin]

Watch this: The “natural” label on your food is baloney

It’s nothing but a marketing ploy. [YouTube / Liz Scheltens]

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated Sen. Manchin’s first name.

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