The term innovation is frequently used as a justification for allowing clinicians to offer unproven autologous stem cell-based interventions (SCBIs) to their patients. Proponents of this kind of innovation (which we refer to as "clinical innovation") argue that physicians should be free to administer whatever interventions they choose, and informed consumers should be free to receive them. This article refutes the notion that clinician autonomy and consumer demand are a sufficient justification for offering patients unproven autologous SCBIs. We argue that, while clinician and consumer preferences need to be taken seriously, access to unproven SCBIs can only be fully justified when it is based on a commitment to beneficence and prudence. We also argue that there is a need for a clearer distinction between the definition of clinical innovation with autologous stem cells, which is morally neutral, and its justification, which entails a commitment to beneficence and prudence. Finally, we argue that regulation of clinical innovation with autologous stem cells needs to be based on a bioethics of innovation that attends to beneficence and prudence alongside other ethical principles.


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pp. 90-105
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