Dr Rina Newton explains her passion for ‘the Code’ and why helping pharma to abide by it is so rewarding.

Science of compliance

What do you do?

I work for CompliMed and we specialise in making compliance clear. Last year we helped five of the six pharma companies audited by the PMCPA*. That’s a serious sanction which requires insight and experience to get through. I’m immensely proud that those who want to comply with the Code**, whether it’s for these exceptional challenges or ‘the everyday’, depend upon CompliMed.

Why are CompliMed successful?

I love the Code and I’m not ashamed of that! I believe passionately that you should love what you do. I am surrounded by talented compliance and medical teams, and what we do on a daily basis gives us a huge sense of achievement. This combination of factors is extremely motivating.

We’re not limited by the usual trappings of large organisations, so at CompliMed everyone is clear on the company strategy, knows what’s expected of them and is free to operate according to our values.

How have your values helped achieve success?

Eighteen months ago, we successfully applied to join the British Library’s EU-funded Innovating-For-Growth programme and were given incredible and intense support, which helped us create a vision we are proud of, alongside values that are personal to us. It’s the absolute adherence to our values that gives us confidence to operate – we don’t compromise on patient safety or ethical conduct, so we’ll stop working with clients that don’t respect that.

Since then our turnover has tripled due to an effective strategy, coupled with the right infrastructure. With finance, IT, HR and administration support, we can work flexibly and effectively with a client base of 50 companies.

What is your policy on flexible working?

When I set up CompliMed I became a single mum unexpectedly, so it was tough – flexible working was essential because I chose to have it all; I worked unsociable hours to do the school run, as well as build my business. I now have a team that also needs this flexibility to allow them to be the best they can be, at home as well as at work. This is 2018, after all!

Did your status affect the growth of your business?

No, the direction of the company has been largely unaffected by my status. There are instances, as any working parent knows, where you question your motives – and sanity – but I’m lucky to have a strong leadership team and an amazing support network. My mum in particular, has always encouraged me to ignore perceived boundaries and “keep growing”. Accordingly, CompliMed is a meritocracy and it’s team talent that grows the business, not team ‘status’.

Are difficult conversations with senior leaders harder for women?

We’ve had CEOs throw the Code across the room at us during the first meeting, but we ultimately became their trusted confidant. We are in the business of difficult conversations and I’ve never considered position, race or gender to have any relevance. We speak truthfully and confidently to anyone about the Code and compliance; at the end of the day, that’s what earns respect, fosters trust and builds relationships.

In your opinion, how are pharmacists perceived in the industry?

When I joined the industry 20 years ago, I was a medical affairs pharmacist that was demotivated and always reporting to medics, with little prospect of career progression. Now it’s very different; pharmacists are marketing, medical and compliance directors, and even CEOs.

CompliMed signatories are nearly all pharmacists and we championed the expansion of the pharmacists’ remit to become full medical signatories a number of years ago. It’s difficult when the rise of pharmacists is still regarded by some as a negative development, but our approach is, and always will be, advocacy.

How are you helping to progress pharmacy even further?

We are running a university roadshow visiting schools of pharmacy to educate undergraduates/postgraduates on career possibilities within corporate pharma. There has been phenomenal support for this venture from universities themselves and pharmacists across the industry. I’m genuinely excited that a new generation of pharmacists will be better informed about the difference they can make in pharma.

What do you hope will be happening within the industry in ten years’, in terms of equal opportunities?

I think my story demonstrates there are equal opportunities for all right now. My race, gender and qualifications have never defined me; I’ve created my own opportunities and know others can do the same.

What’s important is what will happen in pharma with respect to compliance in ten years. The industry is perfectly placed to embrace compliance as the ‘engine’ of their corporate car; to realise the benefits that come from a positive compliance culture; and to accept that it’s absolutely right for our starting point to be ‘what patients need’ instead of ‘what our brands need’.

It’s a very exciting time in compliance right now, with pharma taking more control over what is in the Code, and CompliMed providing strong leadership and helping companies to achieve their potential.

Dr Rina Newton is Managing Director at CompliMed. Go to complimedltd.co.uk or write to info@complimedltd.co.uk