The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that the agency is actively challenging several marketers of mobile apps promoted to detect symptoms of melanoma (even in its early stages) due to deceptive claims.

The marketers of two such apps, MelApp and Mole Detective, have agreed to settlements that ban them from continuing to make these unsupported claims. Each app instructed users to photograph a mole with a smartphone camera and input information about the mole; the apps then reportedly calculated the risk of melanoma as low, medium, or high. The agency charges that the marketers deceptively claimed the apps accurately analyzed melanoma risk and could assess such risk in early stages but lacked adequate evidence to support such claims.

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The proposed settlements will bar the companies 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 supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence in the form of human clinical testing of the device. The settlement also prohibits the company from making any other misleading or unsubstantiated claims about a device’s health benefits or efficacy. The marketers of Mole Detective will be fined $3,930 and MelApp will be fined $17,963. The FTC is pursuing charges against two other marketers of Mole Detective who did not agree to the settlement.

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