Five Critical Considerations When Choosing A Pharmacy Label Translation Service

Patient safety is of paramount importance for healthcare professionals, no matter where they work — hospitals, nursing facilities, or pharmacies. One of the most critical, but often underestimated issues affecting safety, is patient understanding and following of prescription label instructions. In fact, recently published data showed that patient non-adherence to prescription instructions is responsible for 22% of all hospitalizations nationally.

For pharmacists, accurate translations of prescription labels for their Limited English Proficiency (LEP) patients is a critical component of prescription labeling. RxTran’s recently published blog post, provides the latest statistics on the size and importance of this rapidly growing segment of the population. Misunderstanding of labeling from this patient cohort, especially due to translation errors, can have significant impact on their health.

In this article, we will summarize five issues to consider when choosing a pharmacy label translation service.

1. Accuracy and Quality of Translation

Accurate, high-quality translations should be considered baseline requirements for pharmacy labels. Long-established documentation confirms that one-third of patients in the U.S. never or seldom read information leaflets on new medications, so the role of the label in conveying information to patients is vital. This is an even more acute reality for those patients for whom English is not their primary language.

What pharmacies need to look for in a Label Translation Service:

Certified translators: Ensure that the translation service you employ has certified linguists, ideally with expertise and tenured experienced with medical and pharmaceutical terminology.

Quality assurance: A formalized audit process, with all recommendations resulting from every audit being satisfactorily implemented, logged, and communicated is another important requirement when choosing a translation service.

2. Regulatory Compliance

While each state can have its own regulatory criteria with regards to pharmaceutical labeling, the FDA is the overriding federal authority responsible for labeling requirements. The FDA oversees the processes related to pharmaceutical drugs, biopharmaceuticals, healthcare, etc. and has a strict code when it comes to medicine labeling. All manufacturers, big or small, must adhere to these rules, therefore compliance to these requirements is a necessity.

What pharmacies need to look for in a Label Translation Service:

Compliance expertise: Make sure that the translation service you employ has staff on-site, whose prime responsibility is to ensure regulatory compliance across all languages being translated.

Regulatory guarantee: A service that provides pharmacies and their patients with guarantees that each of the translated labels is compliant with FDA regulations.

3. Speed and Ease Of Use

Pharmacists are used to entering Directions for Use for patients (SIGs) as free text into their Pharmacy Management System (PMS). With so many patient related issues you have to deal with on a daily basis, not having to spend too much time reviewing and correcting inputs is a major need.

What pharmacies need to look for in a Label Translation Service:

Automated matching: Look for a translation service that lets you enter SIGs into the PMS system as free-form text. Ideally, you should be able to use standard SIG codes and abbreviations without spending time concerned with accuracy.

Direct printing: Look for a translation service that enables printing of translated SIGs directly onto the prescription container label.

4. Number of languages translated

The US Census Bureau reported that more than 350 languages are spoken across the U.S., with nearly one in five people of the current population speaking a language other than English at home. While the most common languages are Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Arabic, the country’s rapidly growing diversity presents translation challenges for Pharmacists looking after a significant percentage of LEP patients.

What pharmacies need to look for in a Label Translation Service:

Language coverage: Look for a translation service that offers translations of all the relevant languages in your area.

Phone interpretation services: Consider a translation service that also provides over-the-phone interpreting for live-language support when needed.

5. Transparent Pricing

Budget considerations are essential in any business decisions, so transparent pricing models are important in helping evaluate the true cost-effectiveness of a label translation service.

What pharmacies need to look for in a Label Translation Service:

Simple pricing structure: Avoid hidden fees and gradient-based programs that are hard to understand and result in incremental costs that you couldn’t envision when first starting with the service.

Pay-what-you-use models: Balance cost with necessity and efficiency. For example, in your geography, if you only need support for three languages, make sure you only pay for those three.


Choosing the right pharmacy label translation service impacts patient safety, regulatory compliance, and your overall efficiency. By choosing the right label translation service that satisfies all five of the criteria mentioned above, your LEP patients will thank you for it, and in the best case scenario, recommend your pharmacy to their friends and family.

To learn about RxTran’s 26 languages prescription translation service and five-step quality control process, Click here.

© Copyright 2024 Rxtran, a division of Language Scientific Inc. RxTran patient instruction (SIG) translation service is covered by U.S. Patent No 11,836,454 and other pending applications for Systems and Methods for Producing Reliable Translation in Near Real-Time. All rights reserved