Home>>read Five Days in Paris free online

Five Days in Paris

By´╝ÜDanielle Steel

FIVE DAYS IN PARIS




“Steel is one of the best.” —Los Angeles Times





Chapter One

The weather in Paris was unusually warm as Peter Haskell's plane landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The plane taxied neatly to the gate, and a few minutes later, briefcase in hand, Peter was striding through the airport. He was almost smiling as he got on the customs line, despite the heat of the day and the number of people crowding ahead of him in line. Peter Haskell loved Paris.

He generally traveled to Europe four or five times a year. The pharmaceutical empire he ran had research centers in Germany, Switzerland, and France, and huge laboratories and factories in England. It was always interesting coming over here, exchanging ideas with their research teams, and exploring new avenues of marketing, which was his real forte. But this time it was far more than that, far more than just a research trip, or the unveiling of a new product. He was here for the birth of “his baby.” Vicotec. His life's dream. Vicotec was going to change the lives and the outlook of all people with cancer. It was going to dramatically alter maintenance programs, and the very nature of chemotherapy the world over. It would be Peter's one major contribution to the human race. For the past four years, other than his family, it was what he had lived for. And undeniably, it was going to make Wilson-Donovan millions. More than that, obviously, their studies had already projected earnings in the first five years to well over a billion dollars. But that wasn't the point for Peter. The point was life, and the quality of those lives, severely dimmed, they were flickering candles in the dark night of cancer. And Vicotec was going to help them. At first, it had seemed like an idealistic dream, but now they were just inches from final victory, and it gave Peter a thrill every time he thought of what was about to happen.

And so far, their most recent results had been perfect. Their meetings in Germany and Switzerland had gone brilliantly. The testing done in their laboratories there was even more rigorous than what had been done in the States. They were sure now. It was safe. They could move ahead to Phase One Human Trials, as soon as the FDA approved it, which meant giving low doses of the medication to a select number of willing, well-informed subjects, and seeing how they fared.

Wilson-Donovan had already submitted their application to the FDA in January, months before, and based on the information they were developing now, they were going to ask for Vicotec to be put on the “Fast Track,” pressing ahead with human trials of the drug, and eventually early release, once the FDA saw how safe it was and Wilson-Donovan proved it to them. The “Fast Track” process was used in order to speed the various steps toward approval, in the case of drugs to be used in life-threatening diseases. Once they got approval from the FDA, they were going to start with a group of one hundred people who would sign informed consent agreements, acknowledging the potential dangers of the treatment. They were all so desperately ill, it would be their only hope, and they knew it. The people who signed up for experiments like this were grateful for any help available to them.

Wilson-Donovan wanted to move ahead as quickly as possible to clinical trials on patients, which was why it was so important to test Vicotec's safety now before the FDA hearings in September, which would hopefully put it on the “Fast Track.” Peter was absolutely sure that the testing being concluded by Paul-Louis Suchard, the head of the laboratory in Paris, would only confirm the good news he had just been given in Geneva.

“Holiday or business, monsieur?” The customs officer looked unconcerned as he stamped Peter's passport, and barely glanced up at him after looking at the picture. He had blue eyes and dark hair and looked younger than his forty-four years. He had fine features, he was tall, and most people would have agreed that he was handsome.

“Business,” he said almost proudly. Vicotec. Victory. Salvation for every human being struggling with the agonies of chemotherapy and cancer.

The agent handed Peter his passport, and Peter picked up his bag and walked outside to find a taxi. It was a gloriously sunny June day, and with nothing left to do in Geneva, Peter had come to Paris a day early. He loved it here, and it would be easy to find something to do, even if it was just a long walk along the Seine. Or maybe Suchard would agree to meet him sooner than he'd planned, even though it was Sunday. It was still early in the day, and he hadn't had time to call Suchard yet. Although Suchard was very French, very serious, and more than a little rigid, Peter was going to call from the hotel and see if he was free, and willing to change their meeting.

Peter had learned to speak some French over the years, although he conducted all of his business with Suchard in English. Peter Haskell had learned a lot of things since he left the Midwest. It was obvious, even to the customs man at Charles de Gaulle, that Peter Haskell was an important man, of considerable intelligence and sophistication. He was cool and smooth and strong, and had an air of assurance about him. At forty-four, he was the president of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. He was not a scientist, but a marketing man, as was Frank Donovan, the chairman. And somewhat coincidentally, eighteen years before, Peter Haskell had married Frank's daughter. It hadn't been a “smart move” on his part, or a calculated one. In Peter's eyes, it had been an accident, a quirk of fate, and one which he had fought against for the first six years he knew her.

Recommend