US regulators clamp down on apps to treat acne

Want to zap away zits using your trusty smartphone? No can do, according to the US-based Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week. In a "watershed moment" according to
Mobihealthnews, the agency fined two app developers who falsely advertised that their apps could treat acne.

The two apps, AcneApp for iPhones (at a price point of 99 cents) and Acne Pwner for Androids (which sold for $1.99), were also fined for their claims, which the FTC says lack scientific evidence: AcneApp's developer has to pay the FTC $14,294 and the developer of Acne Pwner must shell out $1,700.

"Smartphones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there's no app for that," stated FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz in a press release.

In July, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its intentions to begin regulating the thousands of medical apps for mobile devices that are on the market, but only if they interact with medical devices already regulated.

The FDA regulations are still under development, and the agency is seeking feedback and comments from the industry and general public before releasing final recommendations. But in a draft, the FDA guidelines point to apps that use "the light source from a mobile platform to cure and treat specific conditions, such as acne," as noted by Mobihealthnews.

AcneApp, for example, claimed to use 420 nanometer blue light and 550 nanometer red light to help kill bacteria and promote collagen growth, not only curing acne but preventing wrinkles - claims which drew heavy skepticism from dermatologists when the app launched last year. Still, the app was downloaded about 11,600 times from the iTunes store.

Other acne apps that are likely to get pulled by the FTC, according to Mobihealthnews, are LOL Software's Acne Away, still available for download, as well as four other apps offering light treatments for acne: M&R Selected's SkinApp, FunVid's Acne Light Waves, Luke Campbell's Light Therapy, and LightRx's ZITzapp.

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