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Palexgroup - Pharmaceutical Translation: How to Choose a Pharma Translation Provider

Natalia Bubnova

Deputy Director for Quality Management
14 October 2021

Pharmaceutical Translation: How to Choose a Pharma Translation Provider

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The pharmaceutical industry is rapidly expanding. When scaling their businesses, companies are expanding their reach to multiple countries and continents. To establish an understanding between branches and customers all over the world, companies need localization and translation services.

In this article, we’ll discuss why pharmaceuticals should consider investing in translation services, what the stages of pharmaceutical translation are, and how to choose a company that will provide services to meet industry standards.


(click to show)
  1. Why Does the Pharmaceutical Business Need Translation?
  2. Documents for the Pharmaceutical Industry
  3. Pharmaceutical Translation Stages
    1. Mining
    2. Filtering
    3. Approval
    4. Consistent Translation
    5. Implementation
  4. How to Choose a Pharmaceutical Translation Provider
    1. Quality
    2. On-time delivery
    3. Guarantees
    4. Expertise
    5. Clientele
    6. Guidance, advice, and support
    7. Multiple language support
  5. Why Palex?

Why Does the Pharmaceutical Business Need Translation?

Pharmaceutical companies have an immense impact on the global market, achieving revenue of 1.27 trillion USD in 2020. The market is expected to grow up to 1.6 trillion USD by 2025. The industry is growing and evolving by the day, opening the potential for the medical sector and drug development business worldwide.

So, as far as medical content is concerned, it needs to be of the highest quality. There is no room for mistakes because translations can affect people’s health and even be a matter of a life or death. Moreover, poorly translated content can end up in a lawsuit, involving significant expense.

Life Sciences is a highly regulated industry. Legal and regulatory requirements are constantly evolving in the Life Science sector to keep up with innovative therapies, diagnostics, and other medical technologies, as well as increased service provision by manufacturers and other suppliers. That’s why it’s essential to ensure the quality of Life Science localization services. Translation services providers must be familiar with the relevant industry and local regulations and follow international quality standards, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 17100.

Putting communication between workers aside, the release of a new drug into the market at every stage requires translation: from clinical research and trials to production, packaging, product labeling, and marketing materials. Many times, these stages will be conducted separately in different countries, and translations are needed to ensure every member of this large team has a clear understanding of their work and purpose.

Documents for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical documentation can be split into 4 groups:

  • Research-oriented, describing all stages of pharmaceutical and scientific research, and clinical trials;
  • Administrative, including various regulatory documentation and instructions;
  • Client-oriented, including instructions for medicine, informed consent forms, and prescriptions;
  • Marketing, where survey results, patents, and packaging information can be found.

Take a look at the following table to see how various pharmaceutical documentation appears:

Research-oriented Administrative Client-oriented Marketing
Study and clinical trials protocols Regulatory services Pharmaceutical patient information leaflets (PIL) Packaging and labeling
Clinical trial agreements Training documentation Named patient medicines Pharmaceutical and medical patents
Pre-clinical reports CMC documentation Informed consent forms Pharmaceutical summary of product characteristics
Pharmaceutical research documents QOLs and other PROs Instructions-for-use inserts Market surveys
Clinical trial support Data sheets Dossiers Supply of overseas licensed pharmaceuticals
Scientific articles Drug registration documentation Patient recruitment materials Pharmaceutical leaflets and bulletins
Manuals for research laboratories Patient diaries Patents and patent applications
Case reports and case report forms

Pharmaceutical Translation Stages

Pharmaceutical translation falls into the professional translation category, which means that the technical documentation offered to the expert must be handled with extra precision. Ideally, translators should have professional expertise (or at least be familiar) with the topic and be proficient in both source and target language.


Translation starts with examining technical terminology. The expert reads the material carefully in the source language, highlighting words and medical terms they are not familiar with. With a list of words that require in-depth research, the translator uses dictionaries, glossaries, and help from experts to determine the meanings of the words in question.


At this stage, the expert returns to the document with a list of unfamiliar words, terms, and their possible meanings, matching words with meanings that suit the context. After that, a rough draft is composed based on the research and filtering work.


After all terms are translated, the expert sends their work for approval to the contracting company. The company assigns experts to check the draft, discuss mistakes and discrepancies in its content with the translator. This stage may be repeated several times until the correct terminology is defined.

Consistent Translation

After a few cycles of edits, the expert composes a final version of a translated document. The result of this stage is a coherent document that follows the structure of the original and delivers properly localized information.


The document is shipped to a designated country and serves the intended purpose, whether it is an instruction for the manufacturer or a patient’s prescription.

How to Choose a Pharmaceutical Translation Provider

Picking a localization services provider for your business is a challenging task. The complexity and narrow focus of pharmaceutical documentation calls for a skilled translator familiar with medical and scientific terminology. Accuracy and precision are also required due to the delicate nature of these documents; a single mistake may bring severe consequences not only to the business but to human life as well. Let’s discuss the essential criteria for a translation provider.


In pharmaceutical translation, quality is a must. The company you are planning to entrust with the localization of your documents should ensure the best quality standards. Check case studies, testimonials, and company reviews. A respectable company would also hold internationally recognized certification, such as the following ISO standards:

  • ISO 17100, providing benchmarks for qualification, workflow, and communication exclusively for the translation industry;
  • ISO 9001, reassuring that every step of the project is monitored and quality assurances are crystal clear.

On-time delivery

In business, time is money, so meeting deadlines and delivering translated documents on time is a must for a translation service provider. It is advised to discuss deadline policy with the company: how fast they can deliver materials translated, how flexible time frames are and what happens if deadlines are not met.


A reliable company provides guarantees for its services. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the translation company’s guarantees, their work processes, reporting policy, payments, and refunds in case of unsatisfactory text translation. It would be great if a company has professional liability insurance, securing its resilience in the face of adversity. Communicate your needs and expectations and note possible solutions. Once you know what the company is responsible for, you will have a better understanding if it fits your demands.


Ideally, the expert that will potentially be assigned to your translation project should be a native of the chosen language, be a professional translator and hold a medical degree. A translator like this is hard to find, so this is the biggest value a translation service provider brings to your product.

Get to know the company’s cycle of translation: who the people that are going to work on your project are, what their roles are, how competent they are with the chosen language and field, what the key stages of the translation process are and what result is expected at the end of each one.


Take a look at the company’s clients and their feedback. While it is not so important for a company to work with big names like Pfizer, if a company has testimonials and reviews from companies in the same field as yours, they might be a good fit for you.

Guidance, advice, and support

The company you are ordering a pharmacological translation service from should know you are not supposed to be a master of a foreign language or expert translator. It is their work to explain translation details and give you advice and guidance throughout the translation. Even after the work is finished, in the event of translation errors, they should provide support and corrections.

Multiple language support

How many different languages do you want your document to be translated into? If there is more than one, then you might want to find a company that provides accurate translations to multiple languages, as it is easier to control and manage one document in one company than in many companies, encountering possible quality loss between versions of the same document.

Why Palex?

For the last two decades, Palex has worked on various pharmaceutical translations, from patient information leaflets to study protocols to pre-clinical reports and many more. We recognize the importance of pharma documentation, hence we provide high-quality, on-time translations by competent native experts in the medical field. Our expert team is composed of medical doctorate-level translators. Our strong PM team is on hand to answer any questions.

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