J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon hosted a private dinner for pharmaceutical executives on Sunday night, ahead of the bank’s health-care conference in San Francisco. There was one company not in attendance that received a lot of attention: Amazon.
About 25 industry leaders attended from companies including Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, along with some of the J.P. Morgan’s investment bankers, according to two people with knowledge of the event who asked not to be named because it was private.
Dimon gave some details around what he hopes to accomplish through the bank’s health partnership, announced last year, with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway.
He told the room, “We are not happy with health-care costs and want to help,” the people said. It’s a theme that’s gained resonance in Washington, D.C., with President Donald Trump and politicians from both sides of the aisle calling for drugmakers to lower prices.
Dimon was peppered with additional questions about Amazon and its ambitions in the health-care market, after the e-retailer purchased online pharmacy PillPack last year. Amazon also has plans for delivering medical supplies, and the company has reportedly been experimenting in areas like electronic medical records and telemedicine.
Some view Amazon as a potential collaborator, while others see the technology giant as a threat.
The J.P. Morgan-Amazon-Berkshire venture is focused on improving health-care quality while lowering costs, initially for their combined 1.2 million employees. The group has grown to about a half-dozen people from across the health industry, but has not yet revealed its strategy.
“I know last year a lot of your stocks went down after some of my comments,” Dimon told the attendees, referencing the partnership with Amazon. He declined to speculate on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ plans outside of the group, the people said.
On Tuesday, Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks acknowledged the dinner with Dimon while on a panel at the conference, and called for other CEOs to take a more active role in the health benefits for employees. Typically, senior leaders aren’t involved in the formation of benefits plans.
“I think here corporate America can lead,” Ricks said. “And I’m sure Jamie would welcome that kind of discussion.”