Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order barring Health Discovery Corporation from making deceptive or unsupported claims that its app, MelApp, could help diagnose or assess consumers’ melanoma risk.
According to the FTC’s February 2015 complaint, MelApp instructed users to photograph a mole with a smartphone camera and input other information. It would then supposedly calculate the mole’s melanoma risk as low, medium, or high. The FTC charged that Health Discovery Corporation deceptively claimed the app accurately analyzed melanoma risk and could assess such risk in early stages, and that its accuracy was scientifically proven.
The final order settling the action bars the company from claiming that any device detects or diagnoses melanoma or its risk factors, or increases users’ chances of early detection, unless the representation is not misleading and is supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. It also prohibits Health Discovery Corporation from making any other deceptive claims about a device’s health benefits or efficacy, or about the scientific support for any product or service, and requires the company to pay $17,963.
The Commission vote approving the final consent order and was 4-1, with Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen voting no. (FTC File No. 132-3211; the staff contact is Karen Mandel, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2491)
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Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs