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FTC Calls Melanoma App Claims Unfounded

(CN) - The Federal Trade Commission sued U.K.-based L Health Ltd. and its CEO, Avrom Lasarow, on claims they are deceptively promoting a smartphone app that can supposedly detect melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

According to the agency, the defendants claim that by taking a picture of a mole and providing certain other information, users can determine whether the mole is cancerous, even in the early stages of the disease.

The problem, the FTC says, is that the defendants didn't have any scientific basis backing up their claims.

"Truth in advertising laws apply in the mobile marketplace," said Jessica Rich, director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a written statement.

"App developers and marketers must have scientific evidence to support any health or disease claims that they make for their apps," she said.

The lawsuit was filed in the Chicago Federal Court just as the agency announced it was settling a similar action against the promoters of MelApp and Mole Detective.

New Consumer Solutions and its CEO Kristi Kimball, began selling their app in January 2012 in Apple's App Store and Google's Google Play. Lasarow, defendant in the current case, took over marketing the app in August 2012.

Under the terms of the settlement, New Consumer Solutions is barred from making unsubstantiated claims about its products and must return about $4,000 to consumers who bought the app.

Health Discovery Corp., the company behind the MelApp, agreed to a similar settlement, but return about $18,000 to its customers.

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