New Non-Validated Practice: An Enhanced Definition of Innovative Practice for Medicine

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Ignacio Mastroleo, Felicitas Holzer

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: right to try; innovation in medicine; innovative care; innovative practice; distinction between research and practice

A significant part of the literature on innovative practice in medicine relates to seizing opportunities and curbing harms for patients in desperate situations. Unfortunately, the term innovation has multiple meanings and a rich rhetorical flourish that adds confusion and misunderstanding to an already difficult debate. This paper aims to enhance the current definition of innovative practice for medicine. First, we replace the term innovation with the more literal of new non-validated practice. To identify this meaning, we analyse the traditional research ethics’ distinction between research, validated practice, and innovation in the Belmont Report. Second, we propose the following explicit definition of new non-validated practice: the first or recent use of diagnostic, therapeutic or preventive interventions that introduce a significant change, with an insufficient level of evidence of safety or efficacy for regular healthcare, and with the main aim to benefit individual patients. This definition is a promising conceptual tool to inform empirical research, ethicists, and the harmonization of its regulation and legislation (e.g. right-to-try laws).

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