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February 23, 2015

US FTC fines marketers of two melanoma detection apps

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined marketers of two melanoma detection apps, MelApp and Mole Detective, over claims of insufficient scientific support.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined marketers of two melanoma detection apps, MelApp and Mole Detective, over claims of insufficient scientific support.

According to the complaints, each of the marketers falsely claimed the apps can accurately analyse melanoma risk and could assess such risk in early stages.

FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director Jessica Rich said: "Truth in advertising laws apply in the mobile marketplace.

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

"According to the complaints, each of the marketers falsely claimed the apps can accurately analyse melanoma risk and could assess such risk in early stages."

The Mole Detective app was developed and first marketed by Kristi Kimball and her company New Consumer Solutions in January 2012, following which a UK-based L Health started marketing the app in August 2012.

FTC has prohibited New Consumer Solutions from making any other misleading or unsubstantiated health claims about a product or service, and requires them to pay $3,930.

The settlement with Kristi Kimball and New Consumer Solutions will be filed with the court in the future.

MelApp has been marketed online since 2011 by Health Discovery Corporation, which has now been prohibited from making any other misleading or unsubstantiated claims about a device’s health benefits or efficacy. It is required to pay $17,963.

A description of the consent agreement package will be published shortly by the FTC, and will be subject to public comment until 25 March.

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