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Pharmaceutical Translation and Localization – What’s the difference?

Pharmaceutical Translation and Localization – What’s the difference?

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In the realm of global pharmaceuticals, precise communication is of paramount importance. For this reason, when a pharmaceutical company attempts to expand its foothold past its native territory, it faces a complex and critical challenge: the need to ensure that its products are fully and appropriately adapted to align with the target market’s cultural nuances.

However, pharmaceutical translation by itself cannot fulfil this purpose. Instead, a more comprehensive pharmaceutical localization strategy is required. But wait – what’s the difference between translation and localization in the pharmaceutical context? Let’s find out!

How Do Pharmaceutical Translation and Localization Differ?

Translation and localization are tightly related concepts but aren’t mutually exclusive. Pharmaceutical translations simply involve the conversion of text from one language into another with the aim of preserving the content’s original meaning and intent.

Translation is an integral component of localization. Nevertheless, pharmaceutical localization is a broader and more intricate process that encompasses far more than just finding proper word-for-word equivalents from language A to language B.
Pharmaceutical localization involves the adaptation of the product and its surrounding materials to match the target country or region’s local cultural and regulatory nuances. Localization goes further than just language, because it’s also concerned with the adaptation of elements such as drug measurements, currencies, date formats, packaging, and imagery.

The goal with localization is to make the product feel as though it was originally intended for release in that market.

The Importance of Pharmaceutical Localization – Why Translation Alone Isn’t Enough

Before a pharmaceutical company can launch a pharmaceutical product in a different region or country, it needs to ensure that all documents and materials related to the product are appropriately localized, so they can be properly understood by patients and regulatory authorities.

These materials can include anything from product labels and packaging to patient information leaflets, clinical trial documentation, regulatory submissions, drug inserts, as well as advertising and promotional materials, among others.

More specifically, pharmaceutical localization is critical for the following reasons:

It ensures conformity with regulatory requirements

We’ve emphasized the importance of localization in light of regulatory compliance repeatedly in this article. Let’s delve a little deeper into what this concept entails:

At its core, regulatory compliance refers to the act of following and conforming to the established regulations and legal standards governing a particular region.

In the context of the pharmaceutical industry, this involves the meticulous adherence to the laws and guidelines that relate to the development, manufacturing, testing, labelling, marketing, and distribution of pharmaceutical products.

That’s exactly where localization becomes relevant. Different countries have varying pharmaceutical regulations and labelling requirements. To ensure regulatory compliance and enter their chosen markets in the first place, pharmaceutical companies must localize items such as their product labels, packaging, and regulatory submissions.

Translation alone doesn’t account for cultural nuances or the unique requirements of each market, which means that it cannot fully address the complexities of regulatory compliance.

It facilitates the effective communication between healthcare providers and patients

The safety and well-being of patients are a priority in the pharmaceutical industry. Localization ensures that all product-related information, including dosage instructions, potential side effects, and usage guidelines, is not only translated accurately but also presented in a way that’s understandable by healthcare professionals and patients alike.

When this information is localized correctly, healthcare providers can communicate more effectively with their patients, leading to the safer use of medication and better treatment outcomes.

For instance, a pharmaceutical company that wants to release its products in Saudi Arabia might need to adapt the product’s dosage instructions to the local measurement unit, which is millilitres.

With this localized information on hand, a local Saudi Arabian doctor or a pharmacist will know exactly how much of the medication to prescribe to a patient and thus be able to provide the most effective and safest treatment possible to address the patient’s condition.

It adapts the pharmaceutical product, so it aligns with local cultural preferences and norms

Cultural nuances influence how medical information is perceived and acted upon. When patients and healthcare providers find information and packaging that’s familiar and relevant to them, they are far more likely to trust and use the product.

Since localization considers these cultural nuances, the product will ultimately become more relatable to the local population and thus more likely to be bought.

For example, different cultures attach specific symbolism to certain images and icons. The lotus flower, for instance, symbolizes purity and enlightenment in India and could be incorporated into the pharmaceutical product’s packaging to better appeal to the locals.

By contrast, certain imagery can cause cultural offense and should be avoided at all costs. No matter how effective and safe the medicine itself is, one culturally insensitive symbol or icon can erode trust and create misunderstandings among the local community, making the product less likely to sell well.

Get Past the Regulatory Hurdles and Onto the Shelves of Local Pharmacies with Pangea’s Pharmaceutical Localization Services!

There are a lot of different factors to account for when entering a new market. Because of this, without expert pharmaceutical localization support, pharmaceutical companies can find themselves overwhelmed by the intricacies of local regulations, cultural sensitivities, and language barriers.

By entrusting the localization of your project onto the hands of pharmaceutical localization experts like Pangea Global’s, you can significantly boost your chances of entering your target markets.

From product summaries and labelling to clinical trials, study protocols, and marketing materials, we can localize any pharmaceutical document under the sun in 75+ languages – even on the same day if you would like us to!

To find out more about what we can do for you, make sure to get in touch with us using this form.

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