Breaking The Barrier

Being involved in the European marketplace these days would seem to be a no-brainer for medical packagers. For starters, it’s a growing region where the total medical market brings in $68 billion a year. It’s also the second largest market for medical devices and equipment, after the United States. And the future looks even more promising for the region. According to recent data from Frost & Sullivan, the European market for drugs, medical devices, and medical equipment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4% over the next four years.

But just because there’s business to gain by marketing products in Europe doesn’t mean it’s an easy place in which to operate. In fact, the language barrier alone prevents companies from having an easy time getting their products sold overseas. For example, paying translation companies to make sure the right messages get put in the right languages on packages can be a costly process, in terms of both money and time.

And with the addition of 10 new countries to the European Union this past May, that’s a potential barrier that just got a lot bigger. The addition of new members Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia represents the EU’s biggest expansion since its inception. The total EU membership now stands at 25 countries. All those new languages certainly add a whole new set of potential headaches for companies already concerned with accommodating different languages on their package labeling.

Fortunately, some of the medical packaging industry’s brightest minds have some good ideas about how to meet this challenge. For this installment of our medical packaging roundtable, we let industry experts Dave Olson, Barbara Nawrot, and Tom Roberts discuss the impact of the new EU additions on multilanguage labeling. Their conversation, which begins on page 28 of this issue, is an enlightening look at the various challenges medical companies encounter when dealing with language issues on their packaging. It’s also an excellent opportunity to hear about some unique solutions to those problems. For example, Barbara Nawrot, manager of packaging and labeling development at Cordis Corp., offers some excellent advice on partnering with translation services. Her first-hand account of the process turns out to be both interesting and instructive.

You’ll find plenty of other useful topics throughout the interview. The development of new symbols to replace copy-heavy material is a growing trend that all three roundtable participants are eager to weigh in on. In addition, they provide some interesting input on the topics of e-labeling and CD labeling. You’ll also find some good ideas on Internet-based customer service.

We hope you enjoy reading their conversation. Though there will always be a language barrier for companies operating in Europe, there are plenty of great suggestions here on how to overcome it.

Ben Van Houten, Senior Editor


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