WASHINGTON (CN) – The marketers of “AcneApp” and “AcnePwner,” two smartphone applications that claim to treat acne, will withdraw their baseless claims and pay fines, the Federal Trade Commission said.
The two settled cases are the first the FTC has brought against sellers of mobile applications for making false health claims.
“Smartphones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement announcing the settlements.
The developers of the apps claimed that holding the display screen of a mobile device next to the affected area, while the app was running, would clear up acne.
Unfortunately for teen-agers everywhere, the FTC said there is no scientific evidence for this.
The FTC said that “AcnePwner” has been downloaded about 3,300 times from Google’s Android Marketplace, where it sold for 99 cents.
“AcneApp,” sold through Apple’s iTunes Store, was more popular, and more expensive, with 11,600 downloads at $1.99.
The FTC says that Gregory Pearson, a licensed and board-certified dermatologist, and Koby Brown, doing business as DermApps, marketed “AcneApp” by falsely claiming that a study in the British Journal of Dermatology found that exposure to blue and red lights – like those emitted by the application – cleared up acne by killing bacteria that cause it.
Under the settlements, DermApps and Andrew Finkle, who marketed “AcnePwner” are barred from making acne-treatment claims about their mobile apps or any other device unless the claims are based on “competent and reliable scientific evidence.” The FTC defines that as “at least two adequate and well controlled human clinical studies of the device, conducted by different researchers, independently of each other, that conform to acceptable designs and protocols.”
DermApps agreed to pay a fine of $14,294; Finkel, agreed to pay $1,700 for making false health claims.