Harvey Schneider Senior was a pharmacist. As was the custom in 1910, he manufactured many of the items that he dispensed. He modified several standard ointments by using a base compounded of a number of oils and waxes. His "secret" base made the ointments smooth and easy to apply and they were blended in such a way that the ingredients didn't separate. He started making his salves for other drug stores, marketing them as Schneider's Skin Cream (the base alone), Schneider's Athletes Foot Remedy (Whitfield's ointment, compounded in his secret base), Schneider's Medicinal Salve for impetigo, pimples and other skin conditions( Coal tar and phenol in Schneider's secret base). Eventually, the back of his drug store became too small for his activities, so he started a small manufacturing plant. To do this, he bought a forty acre farm on the outskirts of Detroit. He lived in the farm house and built his factory several hundred feet away. The farm land was rented to a neighbor, who gave him a share of the profits. Before long, his products became so popular that he gave up his drug store and worked full-time marketing Schneider's Remedies. He expanded out, making Schneider's Soothing Syrup (flavored paregoric), Schneider's Cough Syrup(flavored ammonium chloride) and his most popular product, Schneider's Compound for Female Disorders (a mixture of herbs and flavorings in 20% ethyl alcohol). The advent of Prohibition in 1919 increased the popularity of Schneider's Compound to the point where he had to build a plant solely for its manufacture; a plant which also produced ethyl alcohol from grain and other substances. The compounding of this medicine was so skillful that it's taste was almost indistinguishable from a New York State Port Wine.
Schneider married late in life and, in 1930 his first, and only, son was born: Harvey Schneider Jr. By that time, Schneider Pharmaceuticals had become Schneider Laboratories, a leading manufacturer of all sorts of drugs and biologicals. He introduced his son to the business at an early aged and when Harvey Jr. was 35 years old, Harvey senior had a massive stroke and died, leaving the business to his only son, with the proviso that he take care of his mother -financially, that is.
Harvey Schneider Jr. realized at an early age what running a large
established business was all about. As a result, although some
of his customers were sometimes less than satisfied, his stockholders
were always happy.
When Sam made his acquaintance, Harvey Schneider was in his mid-forties and very successful. He was, as the Italians say, a man with a belly. He was well over six feet tall, almost bald, with a florid complexion that indicated that, while he seemed relaxed, his blood vessels were tense. His attitude toward Sam was one which said "I'm a very busy man -lets get right to the point!" Harvey's handshake made Sam wince.
"What's this urgent business that you have, Michaelson?"
"There's a little problem with one batch of your polio vaccine."
"Impossible! "he snapped," We take every precaution to make sure that our vaccines are uncontaminated."
"I didn't say that it's contaminated. I just said that we have a problem with it." Sam could understand Schneider's sensitivity, since his laboratory had a record, second to none, for having to recall contaminated biologicals.
"Then what's the problem?"
Sam didn't bother swearing Schneider to secrecy. The last thing that Schneider wanted was publicity that suggested another contaminated vaccine. He explained to him about Epidemic E but did not mention sex. He just talked about behavioral changes and how they had traced the problem to a single batch of polio vaccine made by Schneider Laboratories.
"You want me to recall it on your hunch?"
"It's more than just a hunch. We have fairly good evidence that your vaccine causes encephalitis with behavior changes."
"If all that you have is what you've told me, then it's still just a guess that the vaccine is responsible."
"Are you telling me that you won't recall it."
"Do you know what it costs to recall a product?"
"This shouldn't cost much; it only went to a few cities."
"It still costs plenty. We also have to discard the vaccine and admit to some liability for its manufacture. Besides, we've got lots more of that batch in the warehouse. Is the government willing to buy it?"
"What would it cost?"
"About thirty thousand."
"I'd have to check it out," said Sam.
"Why would you be willing to pay that for the vaccine?"
"To keep some kids from getting encephalitis."
"Bullshit! All you would have to do to accomplish that is to get Food and Drug to condemn it and that would cost you nothing."
"That would take too much time." said Sam, aware that he was being had.
"Thirty thousand bucks worth of time?"
"That's not a large price to pay. Besides, I don't know if it would be possible to buy it." Sam felt like he was playing chess with a grand master and he was being clobbered.
"Can the crap, Michaelson! Unless you level with me and tell me what this whole thing is really about, I won't recall the vaccine or sell it the government."
Sam told him about the sexual effects. Schneider's eyes lit up as he talked. When Sam had finished, Schneider said, "So that's what you were holding back. I've got a couple of hundred vials of the most powerful aphrodisiac known and you'll give me thirty thousand for it. Every millionaire in the world would give half his fortune just to be able to get it up, much less to be able to do it permanently. We'll make millions!"
Sam knew that he had lost, but that the vaccine would be recalled. It was time to have a bit of fun.
"Schneider, you already have millions. Why do you need more?"
Schneider gave him a look reserved for children or idiots: "What difference does that make?"
"What are you going to do with the extra millions?"
"Make more millions!"
Obviously, thought Sam, we're living in different worlds, and he decided to drop the subject. Schneider was not about to let it drop:
"When you've solved one research problem, you go on to another. Has it ever occurred to you to ask why you do it?"
Sam capitulated. If you're a problem solver, you solve problems; if you're a money maker, you make money. Until now, it had never occurred to him that his life's work was probably considered a worthless pursuit to anyone except himself and his colleagues.
Schneider's enthusiasm continued to build.
"This is the greatest thing since Penicillin. Can you imagine what people will pay to be able to have uninhibited sex for as long as they lived?"
Sam found himself getting angry. "Do you know why this stuff works? It works because it destroys part of the brain -it kills brain cells permanently. For all we know, this virus may cause cancer and you want to sell this stuff to people to jazz up their sex life."
"Why not? There's always some risk. At least a man would die happy."
"Would you take it?"
"Of course I would! I haven't enjoyed a really good piece of ass in years. Money isn't the only thing that I'm interested in."
"If you're busy screwing, where are you going to find the time to market the stuff?"
"I found the time for both when I was young and I can find it now. I might have to give up golf, but that's no great loss when you have sex. Besides, how much energy do you think it will take to market something that everyone wants?"
Sam had accomplished what he wanted although the price was more than he had cared to pay. He bade farewell to Harvey Schneider and went back to the hotel. There, he packed and made the necessary arrangements to get to Chicago. Then he phoned Sue, telling her when he expected to arrive. He had an hour before the limousine left for the airport, so he made a few phone calls. The first was to Mike Levering to tell him what had transpired. Levering roared with laughter when Sam related their conversation. "I told you he was a slick sonofabitch," Levering said. He was, nevertheless, pleased with the outcome.
His next call was to Eric, who was not pleased.
"The recall comes too late!" he said, "I just got back from the Cheektowaga Elementary School. This morning they gave the first three grades polio vaccine from batch R7001. "
"Oh God!" said Sam.
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