60 seconds with… Dimeji Okewole, Global Head of Assurance Services at AstraZeneca

In this occasional series, we sit down with leading figures in the world of pharma compliance to see what makes them tick. This week, we meet Dimeji Okewole.

What is your current role and what does your work entail?

I am AstraZeneca’s Head of Assurance Services and I manage a global team that engages with tens of thousands of company resources relating to IT, Legal, Regulatory and Privacy issues that deliver solid pharma compliance activities. My day-to-day work involves ensuring my team remains objective-focused and aligned to company principles; engaging existing partners; and fostering relationships with new organizations to deliver enhanced and simplified people, process and technology.

How would you define digital governance/assurance?

It is a complicated discipline that requires my organization to truly understand the guardrails of compliance; to partner with Privacy, IT, and Legal experts to define the principles in order to be compliant; and to project the leadership and authority within the enterprise to ensure these principles are understood, adopted and maintained across our digital properties by all stakeholders.

Is pharma fully on board with the concept of digital governance or is there still room for improvement?

Pharma has a desire to push the boundaries especially in the digital space. This can lead to missteps and oversteps in many scenarios and there is limited understanding of how this could adversely affect the organization – either reputationally or in the form of fines for outdated or incorrect information. My group exists to ensure these missteps are averted.

How do you hope to make a difference in your current role?

I believe we have already made an immense difference. We used to have to manually check thousands of pages of online content on a regular basis to ensure that information such as SPCs, dates of preparation and AE reporting procedures had not become out of date. Now though, we run an entirely automated system that scans all our digital content checking document IDs, dates and key phrases on a quarterly basis. Content owners get to respond to real-time compliance alerts and global regulatory and compliance teams gain a deeper level of insight than ever before. This service, process, and technology is unique within AZ and we are now considered the single source of truth for the data we hold.

How can pharma companies best ensure they are truly compliant?

Do not stay insular: look outside your organization and understand what is going on externally. Engage the right vendor partner – one that will not only do but will also act on your behalf. To do this, they need to properly understand the company so that they can provide insights that not only make sense but are actually feasible and actionable within the confines of your organization.

Get in Touch

If you’re a pharmaceutical director, manager, or part of a digital governance team, and want to know more about how our technology can help you streamline and automate compliance, please get in touch.