Bringing Wall Street to Bethesda

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 25 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:762

The plot sounds like a script for a second rate Hollywood movie: Young, crooked Wall Street hustler is caught, fined $1 billion, and sent to prison. On his release he is told he has cancer. So he sets out to cure the disease—and perhaps save his own life. Along the way he gets the support of presidents and senators and the thanks of the cancer researchers who hope to take his money and return with some good news.

Well, we find again that truth is at least as melodramatic as fiction. Michael Milken, 48, was one of the most infamous personifications of the greed that became the hallmark of 1980s America. He was once the “King of Junk Bonds” but was disgraced when the market for junk bonds collapsed. He pleaded guilty to charges …

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