All you need to know about life science translations

Life Sciences

Life science translation comprises medical documentation related to pharmaceutical products, medical devices and other health technologies that, at a minimum, can improve the quality of life for many people worldwide, and that ultimately can save human lives.

For natural reasons, this means that life sciences translation services focus on accuracy and quality since incorrect translations and omissions could ultimately end up costing lives in the worst-case scenario.


Life sciences market trends

At Acolad, we see a growing trend in the industry to consolidate, which is somewhat influenced by the recovery of the European economies, combined with an increasing demand for health products on a worldwide scale.

Life science as an industry is becoming increasingly consolidated and global.

Companies are acquiring their competitors, expanding their product ranges and forming partnerships – which is resulting in large global players that are very much in need of a competent language service provider.

Life science as an industry is becoming increasingly global due to trends such as medical tourism and the fact that international medical research can be performed anywhere in the world.

Health facilities all around Europe are using specialized translation partners to localize their websites. Many companies are moving their medical device manufacturing to the Asia-Pacific region and to China due to the financial pressure found in the highly competitive market.

The world population is becoming increasingly interested in personal health, and the growth of localized health apps and wearables powered by artificial intelligence is exponencial.

The demographic aspect of people living longer and the desire for healthy ageing form the basis for one of the most important research fields at the moment. 

This development has led to new concepts such as “personalized medicine”, which aims to prevent the individual from getting ill in the first place, and specifies how he or she should be treated from a personalized perspective should illness nevertheless occur.

Companies in a Group sometimes act independently when purchasing translation services, which results in many different and uncoordinated vendors.

Another trend involves the wearables market with products like the Apple Watch and other running watches, fitness bands that track heart beat rate and calories, contact lenses that measure glucose levels and clothing fabrics that measure different health factors. Virtual reality glasses are another popular example of wearable technology.

All of these factors contribute to the market’s consistent annual increase, and it still has a long way to go before reaching its full potential.


Today's life sciences industry challenges

Life science is a heavily regulated field. Pharmaceuticals and medical devices have to undergo very strict approval processes before being introduced to the market for human use. Consequently, there are many guidelines, templates and rules that must be complied with when translating medical texts.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) stipulates numerous guidelines and templates for medical products in the EU, and medical translators need to be familiar with them.

High-quality translation memories are worth their weight in gold.

Translators also need to be able to translate highly complex source material into the target language in a manner that ensures the translated material is patient-friendly and easy to understand.

The various companies or subsidiaries in a group sometimes act independently when purchasing translation services, which results in many different and uncoordinated vendors. This means higher prices and less control over consistency and quality.


How to overcome these challenges?

This subject area requires skilled and experienced life sciences translators who have been tried and tested by a specialized translation partner. Testing ensures that the individual translators are also familiar with the conventions and templates mentioned above.

Approved translators also utilize a good selection of online scientific dictionaries, medical encyclopedias and relevant reference materials from previous assignments, which they combine with their own experience and sound reflection.

In this context, high-quality translation memories are worth their weight in gold since many of the documents to be translated use the same phrases and terms specified by the strictly stipulated guidelines and templates. Examples include informed consent forms, summaries of product characteristics and package inserts.


Localization tips for life sciences companies

1. Find an experienced partner that can meet all your needs – one with documented experience in multilingual life science translation, and that's familiar with the conventions and processes of the life science industry. 

2. Introduce centralized translation purchasing since this will have a huge effect not just on cost reductions, but also on improving quality and faster time-to-market.

3. Implement a standardized process for your translations, including quality assurance where you approve the translated texts. Make sure to assign an expert (or more) to answer questions that may arise about terminology management.

4. Precision and clarity in your source documentation are crucial in terms of enabling accurate translation of crucial aspects such as medicines and dosage. If the source material is unclear or contains mistakes, there is a risk that errors and incorrect translations will be produced in all of the target languages, which could ultimately result in harm to human life in some situations.

5. Ask your translation partner to create a multilingual termbase based on your company’s materials to enable professional term management for all of the languages.

6. Provide feedback on translation quality to ensure that your company’s preferred terminology is specified and consistently implemented in the future.


Acolad's approach to life sciences globalization

At Acolad we receive all kinds of life science documentation for translation such as summaries of product characteristics (SPCs), package inserts, patient information, informed consent forms, lab results, letters from authorities, reports and ethical committee approvals.

To obtain the best possible results, we ensure very clear and effective communication that focuses on the needs of both clients and translators. All relevant information needs to be obtained from the client before a translation project is started.

The information includes obvious elements such as deadline and target group, as well as any relevant reference materials, specific instructions for the job, terminology preferences, etc. By adhering to this process, the translator is more likely to get both the terminology and style right from the beginning.

During the process, translators may have questions regarding, for example, specific/preferred terminology or unclear source text, which the client needs clarify as we proceed.

All of the translators engaged by Acolad for medical translation assignments are very adept and experienced, and many of them have completed additional training at university level. Others have a background in medicine as a doctor or nurse and have medical insight into their translations, which is a huge advantage.

Discussions with other medical translators can also be helpful. All medical translations have to be checked by another, equally proficient medical translator, which ensures a high level of quality and compliance with relevant templates and terminology.

Any inaccuracies or omissions on the translator’s part may potentially have severe implications. This puts a lot of pressure on translators in terms of accuracy, clarity and understanding of the content. Accordingly, the quality assurance process must be thorough and effective, which is why the experience at all levels is the key to ensuring high-quality medical translation services.

We offer an unsurpassed level of service and are available whenever our clients need us.

Finally, when delivering the translation after the quality assurance process is complete, we make sure to ask for the client’s feedback – in order to improve the process and quality even more for future projects.

In essence, the entire process pertains to clear, effective and customer-oriented communication with clients and translators.


Why should Acolad be your partner of choice for life sciences translations

Over the past 25 years, Acolad has established a profile as a specialized translation and localization partner for many major companies in the life sciences sector.

Market leaders such as Novartis, GSK, Abbott, Lundbeck and Sanofi have benefited from our globalization expertise in relation to the requirements and processes of the industry, as well as from our ability to balance quality, cost and flexibility.

We translate all content types in the life science sphere – such as protocols, informed consent forms (ICF), package inserts, SPCs, CRO material and instructions for use – to and from basically all languages. We also have localization experience in adapting websites, business applications, apps and other digital platforms in the health and pharma fields.

Through close long-term relationships with our clients, we have built up a thorough understanding of life sciences products and processes: an understanding that is translated into high-quality life science translation by our extremely proficient and experienced medical translators. On top of that, we offer an unsurpassed level of service and are available whenever our clients need us!


Find out how we can provide end-to-end language support for every phase of your product's lifecycle

Connect with our Life Sciences team today!