Got acne? There’s NOT an iPhone, Android app for that, FTC says

FTC for first time goes after health claims of mobile apps

The Federal Trade Commission today settled cases with two mobile companies who claimed their IPhone and Android smartphone apps could treat acne.  The cases are the first the FTC says it has brought targeting mobile app health claims.

The mobile apps were sold in Apple's iTunes Store and Google's Android Marketplace and the settlement bars "AcneApp" and "Acne Pwner" app makers from making health-related claims without scientific evidence. The FTC said the mobile apps were advertised to work in the same way: both claimed to be able to treat acne with colored lights emitted from smartphones or mobile devices. Consumers were advised to hold the display screen next to the area of skin to be treated for few minutes daily while the app was activated.

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According to the FTC complaint, there were approximately 3,300 downloads of AcnePwner, which was offered for 99 cents in the Android Marketplace. Ads for Acne Pwner stated, "Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!" The marketers of AcneApp claimed, "This app was developed by a dermatologist. A study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed blue and red light treatments eliminated p-acne bacteria (a major cause of acne) and reduces skin blemishes by 76%." There were approximately 11,600 downloads of AcneApp from the iTunes store, where it was sold for $1.99.

The FTC charged the acne treatment claims made for both apps were unsubstantiated. It also charged that the marketers of AcneApp falsely claimed that the study in the British Journal of Dermatology proves that blue and red light therapy, such as the type provided by AcneApp, is an effective acne treatment.

The FTC settlement requires Koby Brown and Gregory Pearson, doing business as DermApps, to pay $14,294, and Andrew Finkle, doing business as Acne Pwner, to pay $1,700.

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