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FTC: Smartphone apps do not cure acne

Consumer Reports News: September 08, 2011 02:53 PM

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Cure acne from your smart phone? No, there really isn't an app for that. But the Federal Trade Commission says two marketers have clouded the issue and misled consumers into believing otherwise.

Today, the FTC announced it has reached tentative settlements with DermaApps and Acne Pwner, companies charged with marketing smart phone apps with unsubstantiated acne-fighting properties.

The federal regulators alleged that both apps, the 99-cent AcnePwner and the $1.99 AcneApp, falsely promised to treat facial acne by simply controlling colored lights from smart phone display screens. The FTC stated that the marketers of AcneApp even misused a British Journal of Dermatology study on light-based therapy to attempt to persuade shoppers of the app's effectiveness as an acne treament.

“Smartphones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” said FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz.

According to the FTC complaint, thousands of smart phone consumers were duped by the companies false claims. By FTC's reckoning, there were some 3,300 downloads of AcnePwner from the Android Marketplace and 11,600 downloads of AcneApp from the Apple iTunes Store.

Under the settlement, both companies would be barred from making acne-treatment claims about their apps or other devices as well as marketing the health, safety, or performance benefits of any other device without competent and reliable scientific evidence. Both companies would also be prohibited from misrepresenting research, test of studies.

As part of the settlement, DermaApp would pay $14,294 in fines while AcnePwner will pony-up $1,700.

The FTC is inviting public comment on the proposed settlement online at ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/acneappconsent and ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/acnepwnerconsent. After 30 days, the FTC will make its final decision.

If passed, it will be the first time the FTC has ruled on cases specifically targeting health claims in the mobile app marketplace.

"Acne Cure" Mobile App Marketers Will Drop Baseless Claims Under FTC Settlements [FTC]

Paul Eng

   

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