Last week the Federal Trade Commission finally ordered two businesses to stop marketing their acne smartphone apps, which they not so smartly marketed as cures or effective treatment. This is really interesting because it’s the first time the FTC has ever targeted apps for making fraudulent health claims.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the FTC said that the two apps — AcneApp and Acne Pawner — both claimed to treat blemishes by emitting colored lights. The app users were told to activate the apps on their phone and then hold the phone to the part of the skin with the acne breakouts for a few minutes a day.
Acne Pawner, which was available in the Android Market for 99 cents, ran ads urging readers to “kill acne with this simple yet powerful tool.” AcneApp, which was available on iTunes for $1.99, claimed that it was developed by a dermatologist using red and blue light treatments which were allegedly validated by the British Journal of Dermatology. But the FTC concluded that… and I quote… “the purported medical benefits were baseless.”
Yes there are reputable reports in peer reviewed medical journals such as the British Journal of Dermatology that demonstrate the efficacy of medical devices emitting colored lights to improve acne and even other conditions.
But, my DermTV viewers and I know this FTC action hardly comes as a surprise since almost 2 years ago in the DermTV episode titled, “Are At-Home LED Skin Care Devices Effective,” I said and even demonstrated that the power, the energy and the actual quality of the lights in the smartphone apps just weren’t the same as they are in professional devices, and therefore just couldn’t be effective.
You’ve heard me say this before, but if something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Buyer beware.