FTC: Apps wrongly claimed they could detect melanoma

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Marketers of MelApp and Mole Detective are being challenged by the Federal Trade Commission for claiming their mobile apps could detect symptoms of melanoma.

FTC Office of Public Affairs said there have already been two separate cases with marketers of MelApp and Mole Detective due to the lack of accurate evidence to support such claims. In those cases they have agreed to settlements that prohibit them from making unsupported claims. The agency is now going after two additional marketers of Mole Detective who did not agree to settle. 

According to the FTC’s complaints, each app required users to take a photo of a mole with a smartphone camera and include additional information about the mole. The app would then calculate the mole’s melanoma as low, medium or high risk. The FTC said the marketers said the apps accurately diagnosed the users’ melanoma risk and could detect symptoms even in early stages of the cancer.

“Truth in advertising laws apply in the mobile marketplace,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “App developers and marketers must have scientific evidence to support any health or disease claims that they make for their apps.”

The complaint against Mole Detective was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Monday.

Kristi Kimball and her company, New Consumer Solutions, LLC developed and first marketed Mole Detective in January 2012. Avrom “Avi” Lasarow and his company, L Health Ltd. took over marketing the company in August 2012.

Kimball and her company agreed to settlements which prohibit them from stating unsupported claims about a device detecting or diagnosing melanoma, unless evidence is proven otherwise. It also prohibits them from making any other misleading health claims. They are required to pay $3,930.

The agency will pursue a lawsuit against non-settling defendants Lasarow and his company.

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