FTC Puts Squeeze On Anti-Acne App Makers

In a first in the mobile health marketplace, the US Federal Trade Commission has filed settlements against two app makers that falsely claimed that using their smartphone apps would eradicate blemishes in teens and adults

The FTC passed down the proposed settlement claims against DermApps and Acne Pwner, forcing them to pay in total $14,294 and $1,700 respectively to the thousands of people who downloaded the apps from the iTunes store in a belief that it would shape up their skin flaws.

This is the first time the FTC has filed injunctions against companies in the mobile healthcare marketplace, says the government filing.

AcnePwner sold for 99 cents and AcneApp sold for $1.99 at the Apple iTunes App Store. They have since been removed from the store. According to FTC records, AcnePwner was downloaded 3,300 times, and AcneApp was downloaded over 11,000 times.

AcneApp based its advertising claims on a study published by British Journal of Dermatology that showed that the use of blue and red lights led to decreases in acne in people who sought that treatment. But that study looked at treatments that blended the use of lights with specific creams and ointments, not with lights only, as the app makers advertised.

The settlements forbids the marketers from making any more claims about the healthful benefits of their mobile apps and other medical devices. AcneApp in particular is barred from misrepresenting research, tests, or studies.

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