Got acne and need a cure? FTC says there's no app for that

Posted Oct 29, 2011 by Leigh Goessl
Got acne? If you believe the marketers, there's an app for that. In fact, until recently, there were two apps on the market which claimed to have the power to cure acne.
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How it allegedly worked was a consumer was instructed to activate the app and hold the display screen, which emitted light, next to the portion of their skin afflicted by acne for a few minutes a day.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) didn't agree and said the basis of these claims was 'unsubstantiated'. In an announcement on Oct. 25, the two companies which created these acne-curing apps settled charges made by the FTC. As a part of the settlement, the three men cannot market the acne-zapping apps by making health-related claims without scientific evidence.
The FTC reported, "The cases involving mobile apps “AcneApp” and “Acne Pwner” are the first the FTC has brought targeting health claims in the mobile application marketplace."
The FTC complaint said approximately 3,300 people downloaded AcnePwner, which was operated by Andrew N. Finkle. The app sold for 99 cents at Google’s Android Marketplace and claimed “Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!”
As for AcneApp, operated by Koby Brown and Gregory W. Pearson, sold a bit higher at $1,99, and 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%.” Pearson is a dermatologist. AcneApp claimed 11,600 downloads of the product were made from Apple’s iTunes Store.
According to the Daily Finance, Pearson's lawyer, Sesha Kalapatapu, said, "Dr. Pearson had seen some studies that showed that certain segments of the spectrum of light have medicinal properties, particularly with respect to acne.
"There are some new treatments out there and he thought it would be fun and interesting to make an app for it. So he teamed up with a software developer, just something on the side for fun."
Unfortunately the duo did not say on their ads that the app was for entertainment purposes and the FTC called them on it, and now they'll have to pay. Brown and Pearson are ordered to pay $14,294 and Finkle, $1,700.
“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.
The Daily Finance reported that one professor of dermatology said that the science behind this type of app "isn't entirely flawed", however said the way the app was built, incorrect and weak light sources were used.