Clear language saves time and money – also in the pharmaceutical industry
Everyone working in the pharmaceutical industry has every now and then had a good laugh at the expense of package leaflets of medicines or wrestled with fiddly summaries of product characteristics – these documents as well as other texts relevant to successful treatment outcome and medication safety would greatly benefit of clarification of language and style. Not everybody understands medical jargon, and that’s why also drug regulatory authorities have issued guidelines about using clear language in product information texts.
Many of us already know what is needed for a clear message: think what you want to say, to whom, why, when and how (which channel?). Even though all these elements were in order, the message might never reach the recipient if the language used is vague.
From the perspective of a person working in the pharmaceutical industry, the benefit/risk relationship of clear language is solely positive as benefits are numerous yet there are no adverse effects at all:
Clear language enhances safety: easy-to-understand instructions improve the safety of complicated treatments.
Clear language creates trust: the writer clearly knows what (s)he is talking about and also wants me to understand!
Clear language saves time: unambiguous instructions are understood on a first reading. Time is left for other things than reading the text over and over again to understand it.
Clear language saves money: clarity reduces medication-related misunderstandings, questions and errors. Clear product information texts pave the way for new medicines from the Medicines Agency to patients.
Clear language gives a positive impression of the sender of the message: A clear writer is perceived as professional and convincing: Linguistically competent must surely be competent in other respects as well.
Happy International Plain Language Day on October, 13.