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Lessons Learned: Overseas Clinical Trials

Medical Pharmaceutical Translations • Dec 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM

With the majority of clinical trials taking place overseas, it’s not surprising we work on so many of them.  Along the way, we’ve learned many lessons.  Read along to learn the same lessons, minus the pain:

The translator you use is IMPORTANT

We hire many translators and they have to be the best: native speakers with advanced degrees in healthcare and experience working with clinical trials.  Their skills and experience mean they understand the complicated ins and outs of an overseas healthcare trial.

Your ending is only as good as your beginning

If you want your ending translation to be precise, your source document must be precise.  Is your original English document a train wreck?  How do you think it will look after being run through the filter of another language?  Take the time to make your original perfect so you don’t amplify careless mistakes across other languages.

 A lot hinges on patient recruitment

Missing the mark on patient recruitment means delays and money lost.  For a clinical trial to be successful you must understand the culture and thought patterns of your audience.  Using language your target population relates to triggers a desire to act.  High retention rates make everyone happy.

Speaking of language . . .

Clear, concise, uncomplicated communication is understood in any language.  Keep your source document at a fifth grade reading level.

Watch your words: in some countries “drug” is a dirty word but “medication” is acceptable.

And don’t let your words make promises you can’t keep: a medication may help with symptoms (versus will help.)

 Your Project Manager can make or break you

Imagine the complications of translation:   24 different languages, the ethics committee meeting in Turkey happens every other month, the Hindi translator’s software doesn’t have any of the fonts we are using and all pieces need to be done when?

A good project manager keeps everyone on the same page, hitting deadlines, tracking changes for review by ethics committees, with access to the software they need.

Like people, clinical trials are complex, intricate organisms.  Having your trial go smoothly saves time, frustration and money.  Having one project manager work through the entire project can mean the world.

With our vast experience in overseas clinical trials, we’ve had our share of pitfalls along the way.  If insanity is repeating the same action while expecting a different result, don’t be insane.  Take the preceding advice and make your next clinical trial smooth, efficient and pain free.

Sherry Dineen

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