Drug label translation is a very precise field of work. Get many areas of translation wrong, and you have a problem. Drug labelling errors however, are especially serious. The result can be serious injury or even death. You could also be subject to legal action.
Even something simple like a use by date needs great care. Date format is not the same from one language to another. Even between UK and US English this is an issue. The common UK format is day/month/year, whilst in the US the norm is month/day/year.
We only work with the best native professional translators. They must additionally have relevant experience. We also carefully QA check our translations.
How you shouldn’t use Machine translations for Drug Label Translation
It was reported in an article in the US press about New York pharmacists.
They were using “electronic translation” to print drug labels. By this we think they mean free online translation tools.
The article gave an example of dosage information. The English word “once” (as in “once a day”), was translated as “once” in Spanish. The issue being that in Spanish “once” means “eleven”. This error could easily be fatal, by causing a serious overdose. No specialist translator would make this kind of error. A machine however, will just churn out rubbish.
The City of New York certainly passed the law with great intentions. The aim was to improve medical information for speakers of minority languages. However, the unforeseen result, was dangerously misleading labelling.
Was the law wrong? No, we don’t think so. The idea was a sound one. The problem was how the pharmacies tried to comply. They clearly did not understand the issues involved with translation.
Drug Labels Done Right
Our approach to drug label translation is the best in west African Sub-region. We engage human translators for all our translations. Our translators are professional, as well as highly-skilled. Even the best translators can make mistakes though. Whilst we expect excellence, independent QA is therefore vital to the process. We apply rigorous linguistic and terminology checks, as well as the project manager giving a final check before delivery.