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Monday, February 18, 2013

New Market Opportunities in Emerging Countries Cause Life Science Companies to Re-Evaluate Translation & Localization Strategies

Language translation services are becoming an even higher priority for life sciences companies targeting emerging markets for business growth. For many of these firms, according to a 2011 Jones Lang LaSalle report, “Asia is clearly an area of focus, particularly India and China. The scale and breadth of investment over the last decade in India and China suggests companies are looking to these countries as both revenue and margin opportunities, and as a destination for both manufacturing and R&D opportunities.”1

However, competition is tough in these markets and companies face escalating pressure to bring products to market without delay. In the race to win market share, companies have identified language translation and localization services as critical to their success. “Life sciences firms producing medical devices or pharmaceuticals are anticipating fast growing demand for translation, localization and cultural customization in Asian languages, especially those languages spoken by large populations of potential users and clinical trial participants in China and India,” noted Nataly Kelly, Chief Research Officer for the Common Sense Advisory.2

An additional trend, medical tourism, defined as patient movement from highly developed nations to less developed areas of the world for medical care3, is also fueling a growing demand for language translations in the medical field. As a recent Deloitte report noted, “Medical care in countries such as India, Thailand and Singapore can cost as little as 10 percent of the cost of comparable care in the United States. The price is remarkably lower for a variety of services and often includes airfare and a stay in a resort hotel. Thanks in part to these low-cost care alternatives, which almost resemble a mini-vacation, interest in medical tourism is strong and positive.”4

To position themselves for growth, many companies are re-evaluating their document translation practices to expedite and improve translation procedures for product, regulatory and marketing documentation without sacrificing quality or dramatically increasing costs. One area of opportunity may be found through the reduction of the number of language providers being used. According to the Common Sense Advisory, reliance on multiple translation and localization vendors is typical in life sciences, but centralized purchasing processes are not. Many large firms often have no idea how many suppliers they have across the organization.5 Firms may derive considerable quality and cost benefits by centralizing all translation and localization projects through a single vendor.

To accomplish this, companies will need a qualified language services provider (LSP) who offers the right combination of expertise, infrastructure and resources to fully support the needs of a life science company. The provider should have the following credentials:

  • Documented, internationally recognized quality and risk management standards 
  • Content management system (CMS) support to streamline process development 
  • High-quality, documented method for qualifying and managing vendors and resources 
  • Web-based technology tools to foster efficiency 
  • Multilingual rebranding expertise

Life science businesses should ensure their LSP offers expert life science translators and linguists with specific subject matter expertise and experience in pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic, and/or biotechnology translation. Buyers should evaluate every potential partner according to standardized criteria to ensure no critical aspect is overlooked. Equally important, a well-qualified LSP should be able to provide client references of life science firms that are similar to the buyer’s profile.


1 “Life Sciences Cluster Report: Global.2011,” Jones Lange LaSalle IP, Inc., 2011.
2 Inna Geller and Nataly Kelly, “How Life Sciences Companies Buy Translation,” Common Sense Advisory, October 15, 2010.
4 “Medical Tourism, Consumers in Search of Value,” Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 2008.
5 Inna Geller and Nataly Kelly.


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Merrill Brink International, a leading language services provider with more than 30 years of experience, offers comprehensive, scalable internationalization, localization and globalization services for global companies. Our services include professional business translation, document translation, technical translation, website translation and more. We provide expert software localization and website localization services, supported by comprehensive testing services, including software testing and website testing. Merrill Brink is a recognized leading provider of software translation, medical translation and automotive translation. We also offer extensive legal document translation services including legal document review and machine translation. Contact us for more information.