6 Jun /16

Pharma Goes International

Pharma Goes International

No Expansion without Pharma Translations

Humira, manufactured by pharmaceutical company AbbVie, is an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat illnesses such as rheumatism, arthritis and Crohn’s disease – and it was also the world’s bestselling drug in 2013. Translating the patient information leaflet for the American drug into various languages is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to penetrating international markets. There are also countless approval procedures in the respective export countries, studies and further processes – and the key to success here is language.

Albrecht von Haller first medical lexicon in German
A copy of Albrecht von Haller’s first medical lexicon in German is part of our collection of antique reference works

The penetration of new markets has never been as self-evident as it is today. Efficient means of transport were significant for the pharmaceutical industry early on. This is why all long-standing pharmaceutical corporations in Germany are located close to rivers. Bayer AG has had a location on the Rhine for 125 years, and Boehringer Ingelheim set up a base on the same river in 1885. Selling products abroad meant that different languages eventually took on greater importance. Whereas medical terms were initially of Latin origin, they were increasingly translated into other languages. In 1755, Albrecht von Haller published the first medical lexicon in German; in 1881, the English-German dictionary of medical and cognitive science terminology was released. This was followed around 110 years later by the first Bulgarian-English medical dictionary, which was written at the end of the Cold War by physician Christo Christoff.

Figures show that nowadays, top pharmaceutical corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Takeda and Bayer generate between 54% and 98% of their sales abroad. The US accounts for the most sales, with USD 444 billion, followed by Japan with USD 82 billion. In 2014, Germany was fourth in the global rankings with USD 38 billion. According to the semi-annual Pharma Management Radar 2016, North America, China and Germany are now considered the most important investment markets.