News | 17.10.2012

Technical translation – a matter of life and death

British pharmaceuticals firms – particularly those which produce medicines for the US market – may need to consider having technical translation of their dosage instructions carried out in the years to come.

That is because the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, a non-profit standards-setting organisation whose opinions are used on a global basis, has raised concerns about how well individuals with different linguistic backgrounds can understand what are often thought of as basic English instructions.

For instance, an instruction like “take 2 tablets twice daily” can be more difficult to interpret than “take 2 tablets in the morning and 2 tablets in the evening” – even for English speakers.

New guidance from the USP now suggests: “Whenever possible, the directions for use on a prescription container label should be provided in the patient’s preferred language.

“The drug name shall be in English as well, so that emergency personnel can have quick access to the information.”

Within the UK itself, English is perhaps more prevalent than in the US, where predominantly Spanish-speaking communities are not unusual.

However, with Asian and Eastern European communities now to be found in many British cities, technical translation of medicinal packaging could literally be a matter of life and death in the years ahead.

Source: Eurek Alert

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