Today, the Federal Trade Commission issued a final order against MelApp for a deceptive claim that it could diagnose or assess a person’s risk of melanoma through its mobile app.
The startup will be fined $17,963 and will be barred from asserting that its app is capable of detecting or diagnosing potential moles or skin lesions as cancerous unless they can support their claims with legitimate scientific evidence.
MelApp first received attention when it launched in 2011 as an early melanoma detection system. The $1.99 mobile app allowed users to take a picture of a suspect mole and have the image analyzed against a database of images for risk assessment. The app was created by Health Discovery Corporation and leverages John Hopkins’ image database to diagnose users.
In February the FTC took action against both MelApp and competitor app Mole Detective for claiming to be able to accurately assess a potential melanoma based on a photograph and a few questions.
The fine shows how difficult it will be for future mobile entrepreneurs to launch health apps that go beyond basic fitness and heart rate monitoring.