Pharmaceutical and medical device sectors today need translation and localization services for marketing and promoting their products on a global level. The demand for skilled language specialists with scientific expertise is increasing tremendously in recent times, as life science companies seek to make a foray across different countries and continents.
According to a market research survey conducted by a noted American firm, the specialized niche sector of translation and localization of life sciences was worth US$75.8 million in 2009. Moreover, translation and localization of medical devices was worth US$100.4 million. Interestingly, the European pharmaceutical translation sector was worth US$265.11 million in 2009, given that there were more than 10,000 pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. In other words, life science firms are today completely dependent on translation and localization services for overseas sales and marketing.
Language service providers (LSPs) need to have formal education in life sciences to work in this booming sector. The pharmaceutical and life science industry primarily consists of the following components: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and clinical research. Translation and localization of life science is a very challenging field as the translated technical literature has a direct impact on the overall health of patients.
Very high accuracy levels are required in this field, and the specialized translators are trained scientists with bilingual fluency. Translators for life science products cannot be mere language specialists, who are mostly hired for translation of consumer products. The pharmaceutical and life science industry requires translation and localization for the following segments:
Pharmaceuticals: Each drug requires documentation and packaging literature in the pharmaceutical industry. This includes information about the efficacy, side-effects, dosage, contraindications, etc. This information is critical in the sense that it is referred by doctors, nurses, and patients. For overseas sales and promotion of these drugs, translation and localization of this literature requires specialists as it is indeed a matter of life and health.
Medical devices: These are used extensively in hospitals, healthcare research centers, and laboratories. Medical devices are marketed and sold in various countries; technical documentation and literature of these medical devices has to be translated in various languages. Each word has to be precise and accurate so as to correctly convey the literature to healthcare professionals across various countries and continents. Translation and localization of medical devices has to be done by trained medical professionals as these devices are exclusively used by healthcare professionals.
Clinical research: These studies are conducted by healthcare research organizations in various countries. Nevertheless, these research studies are usually published in English journals; therefore, skilled healthcare professionals with bilingual expertise are required for translation of these clinical research studies. The findings of these studies are very important in the drug discovery process.
According to multinational companies in life sciences, the demand for translation and localization of their products is very high in Asian countries, such as China, Japan, Korea, and India. This is because the general population speaks regional languages in these countries; hence, the demand for scientifically trained translators is very high in these countries.
In other words, all the technical documentation of pharmaceutical products has to be translated from English to major Asian languages, such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korea, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, etc. Translation and localization is not just limited to drug documentation but also for clinical trials and studies as the participants are fluent in regional languages. Translation and localization of life sciences is a booming business in Asian countries.
Some of the important findings of market research study are as follows:
In life science industry, the demand for translation and localization experts with advanced scientific/medical education is increasing exponentially in European and Asian countries.
Most life science companies hire high quality translation and localization experts, so economical pricing is not the main criterion for hiring these experts.
As the 100% accuracy levels are required in this industry, it is very difficult to find high quality experts.
Most pharmaceutical and life science companies evaluate work samples of these vendors; they do not merely hire vendors with ISO certifications as they have low level of confidence in the accuracy of translators.
Life science companies hire translation vendors with the following qualities: high quality work samples, scientific/medical education, technical expertise, and high quality.