Medical Translation, Translation

Translation Essentials: Pharmaceutical Translation

Pharmaceutical Translation

Pharmaceutical translation is a very special niche in the translation services field. Unlike other fields, a translation mistake here may not just lead to an amusing slogan, a quirky misprint, or even some financial loss. A mistake in pharmaceutical translation could very well lead to the irreversible consequences of injury or death.

In addition to expert knowledge of the most up-to-date technology and pharmaceutical field, your translation service must have several layers of quality control and oversight to ensure no mistakes are made. People all over the world depend on the accuracy of pharmacological materials to guide them in their decision-making processes.

What Sort of Documents Fall into Pharmaceutical Translation

When most people think about the pharmaceutical industry, they think about drug trials, patents and the like. While these are certainly key aspects of the industry and translation of trials and patents are essential, there are many other documents that require translation as well. Consider:

Informed Consent forms  Case Reports Protocol Documents
Packaging text  Label text Brochures
Instructions  Training Docs Synopses


To translate these documents, your translation service must know the regulations of the drug market in the country of origin as well as the regulations for each different target country. Japan, Europe, China, and the Unites States all have very different rules and regulations when it comes to the development and marketing or pharmaceuticals.

Complicating issues, most research and drug trials are done on an international scale. Rarely are tests done all in one country anymore. For example, in the United States, less than a quarter of the approved drugs in the field of oncology are tested in-country. This means that translation services are not just required at the end of a study or to publish final results.

Translations are required at many different stages all throughout the research testing, patenting, and marketing process. In addition to the essential accuracy of the information in many different languages, the translation is often exceptionally time sensitive. Not only are many companies often competing for the same drug or drug process, but translation delays can cause backlogs, rejections, or even lawsuits. This doesn’t even start to address the losses in time, money, and even human health and welfare that can be affected by delays getting the new pharmaceuticals to market.

What to Look for in a Pharmaceutical Translation Service

Since accuracy and timeliness are so essential when it comes to pharmaceutical translation, the reputation of your translation service is critical. Some of the elements necessary include:

  • Computer-assisted translation: Since standardization of content between pharmaceutical companies and global regulatory agencies is so critical, CAT systems provide exceptional accuracy while saving time.
  • Field-Specific Knowledge: The terms and nuances of the pharmaceutical industry must be understood without question if an accurate translation is to be made. Ensure your translator has the education and experience to provide the quality of service you require.
  • Multi-step Quality Review: From proper source language, target language grammar and syntax, cultural nuances, and accurate transcreation of field-specific and localized text, multiple-step reviews of CAT and human translated details are the hallmarks of quality services.

The goal of pharmaceutical translation is clear: you need an accurate, clear, understandable, culturally and regionally relevant translation of data into the target language. The consequences of receiving anything less could be catastrophic.

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