28 Nov /12

Speak to the world, care for the world

pharmaceutical translation localisationDespite general concerns over health issues such as obesity, life expectancy in the UK continues to rise. Ever more sophisticated pharmaceutical treatments to alleviate heart problems, lower cholesterol and stabilise blood pressure are major contributory factors. Thanks to effective immunisation our children are suffering fewer infections during childhood, and better nutrition will help them grow taller and stronger. Breakthroughs are continuous; only this morning it was reported that research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah has brought significant advances in the treatment of Ewing sarcoma, a form of cancer which targets children and young adults. Such advances are contributing to a longevity and quality of life for our children that would previously have been confined to the pages of science fiction.

The pharmaceutical sector attracts criticism for the influence it wields, but it employs over 600,000 people in Europe alone, and they’ve been responsible for over 90% of the world’s new vaccines and medicines over the past quarter of a century. Profit figures for the sector are enviably high, and enviable profits often draw envious criticism. It’s worth noting, though, that healthcare systems and employers the world over save vast amounts of money and time through the direct benefits of these drugs and treatments. How many people are spared sick days, surgery visits and hospitalisation by the efforts of pharma suppliers?

Over the coming years industry leaders may well look beyond familiar markets to new partnerships in emerging economies in Asia and Africa. Exporters are aware of the dramatic growth projected for the pharmaceutical market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Although it currently accounts for only 1.5% of the global pharmaceutical market, MENA demand is growing rapidly. Since 2005, healthcare spending in the region has been rising at an average annual rate of 15%. According to Business Monitor International (BMI), the MENA pharmaceutical market will be worth $23.7 billion by 2014.

The MENA region’s healthcare systems don’t yet have a tried and tested mechanism for providing universally accessible healthcare of suitable cost and quality. The good news is that many pharma suppliers are tailoring their service to the best possible ad-hoc care, focusing on the shipment of smaller, targeted orders to give customers exactly what they need, exactly when they need it. Better, faster critical patient care meets economic needs and more to the point, saves lives.

The potential pitfalls for the sector and for the wider economy are familiar. Advanced healthcare bringing advanced longevity is set to put a strain on unprepared pensions systems. As Europe’s population “ages”, giving the continent a major demographic issue, the question of how to accommodate a large group of people no longer in employment looms large. This year German Chancellor Angela Merkel took steps to address this, drafting proposals requiring all citizens over the age of 25 to pay a proportion of their income towards an “age tax” helping to pay for soaring pension costs and social care bills. Germany’s federal employment agency predicts that the workforce will be reduced by seven million by 2025.

Cultural pitfalls are more immediate, but the good news is that they can be avoided without the intervention of politicians. They simply require partnership with trusted professionals who’ll invest their time and expertise, becoming thoroughly familiar with the language of the industry. These are the partnerships that open doors and keep them open.

Is your website localised? Are your marketing material and your technical specifications targeted to this new audience? Having invested time and money perfecting your product and identifying a suitable new market, have you taken that crucial final step to make sure your message is conveyed as effectively as possible? When it comes to cultural credibility there are reliable translation partners who can ensure you avoid simple but glaring mistakes. One American drug company famously launched an advertising campaign targeted at Arabic consumers using a sequence of three images showing firstly a sick person, then that person taking the company’s product, and finally the same person appearing cured, healthy and happy. The campaign was a disaster; the advertisers hadn’t realised that in the Arabic world, people read from right to left.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, serious consideration was given to closing the UK patent office. It was widely believed that everything worth inventing had been invented. Anyone who has ever watched a television programme, made an aeroplane journey or marvelled at our ability to send manned flights to the Moon will be relieved that we didn’t draw a line under human ingenuity while Queen Victoria was still on the British throne. Babies born this year will live to see a world unrecognisable from our own. Technological advances will no doubt astonish them as they continue to astonish us, and medical advances will maintain their health and well being in ways we can’t yet anticipate. When the children of 2012 reach out to the world, we don’t yet know which languages they’ll speak or which media they’ll use.

What we do know is that pharmaceutical companies seeking to promote their products to an ever more diverse customer base need to speak to those customers in a language they understand. They need to convey their message with absolute accuracy and clarity. To care for the world they need to speak to the world. With EVS Translations, they can.