WEBSITE NOTE: This brief opening is a lead-in to my novel-in-progress Dare Package. 

Several months earlier

David Orthos left the board meeting, slamming the door behind him.

He felt like a child being told by his parents that he couldn’t go to his friends’ party because he hadn’t raked the leaves yet.

Orthocary was a moderately successful pharmaceutical company David’s father Ben had started late in his life. Ben had carefully bought the patents to a number of drugs at their start. These same drugs had once been innovative, but were now mainstream with little innovation happening except a small payment stream.

Orthocary’s most successful drugs were a high blood pressure reliever and an annual flu vaccine. Ben Orthos’ real brilliance had been developing a unique and now ironclad distribution method for not only Orthocary’s products, but also for many other drug companies, the royalties of which were almost as much as product sales.

David had taken the reins of the company before he was forty, ironically after his father’s high blood pressure dispatched him with a sudden aneurysm only five years ago. David had always expected this would be his company, but growth required capital and therefore new relationships with private equity investors.

David had been struggling for years to create a breakout new product that would propel Orthocary as well as his name among inventors. Every time he had proposed to the board more funding to increase research and development, the board shot down the proposal. He had tried many ways to get them to see the light; the last time he brought in a leading tax expert who explained the R&D tax credit and how the expenditures could benefit their tax position. No go.

Now David was first in line to acquire Hercules-173, a promising new tool in liver cirrhosis, which has shown promise with stimulating organ regeneration even at stage four. The drug was well into the preclinical stage, but the university that developed it lacked the resources to start Phase III clinical testing.

The university lab was led by one of David’s undergrad fraternity brothers. They had taken freshman chemistry together, the brother going on to medical school while David went on to graduate in public health and then earned his MBA.

Bradley Roosevelt was a promising pre-med student and David’s frat brother, but also a wild party animal who didn’t always know when to stop. David found Bradley one late night under a bush alongside their frat house main entrance; all David could see were Bradley’s ankles and feet, reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the East in Wizard of Oz, who is seen in a similar fashion, but smashed by Dorothy’s house. 

This incident was only the tip of the iceberg for Bradley; David (and funds from his father) rescued Bradley from a reputation-killing incident. Afterwards, Bradley turned his medical school studies toward liver maladies in part because of his relationship to alcohol in school. While there was an implied debt owed, David had never redeemed the chit. That’s what frat brothers are: loyal, something he couldn’t say about his board members.

David was desperate to show the private equity investors who sat on the board that this was not only a viable product, but that this would also be the key to their own success. Not only were the investors opposed to exploring Hercules-173, but they and the rest of the board had also imposed changes to David’s status: if by year-end the company didn’t show a reasonable increase in revenue, which the board felt was possible if David focused on the current products and distribution relationships, the board might opt to replace him. 

David and the board had chafed many times in the past; David was certain a successful new product would be the impetus for the investors to get out and David to be even more successful than his father. He had to find a way.


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About Dare PackageA down-and-out corporate executive doing court-ordered community service uncovers a toxic famine relief shipment. He looks for relief from the poisons in his own life, including the undoing of his career and marriage, but his estranged wife becomes the only person he can trust! 

© Scott Wolff. No part of this may be copied or reproduced.