FTC says alleged smartphone acne cure is an inept app


The battle between teens and acne has been going on forever, and for some unfortunate combatants on the teen side, the only known cure is to stop being a teen in the form of growing up. It you’ve ever come upon a victim pointing a smartphone screen at a blemish, you may have found a victim of a new class of miracle cure marketers against whom the FTC is taking action.

Applications making the claim that they could help remove acne were sold on Apple’s iTunes Store and Google’s Android Marketplace, marketed with what the FTC calls baseless claims.

“Smartphones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” said FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz.

According to the FTC, “…there were approximately 3,300 downloads of AcnePwner, which was offered for 99 cents in the Android Marketplace. Ads for Acne Pwner stated, ‘Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!’ The marketers of AcneApp claimed, ‘This app was developed by a dermatologist. A study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed blue and red light treatments eliminated p-acne bacteria (a major cause of acne) and reduces skin blemishes by 76%.’ There were approximately 11,600 downloads of AcneApp from the iTunes store, where it was sold for $1.99.

FTC says that British Journal of Dermatology claim was false.

The FTC and the two app marketers are entering into a consent decree, the terms of which the FTC said were still pending. It will include payments as follows: “Koby Brown and Gregory W. Pearson, doing business as DermApps, to pay $14,294, and Andrew N. Finkle, doing business as Acne Pwner, to pay $1,700.”

RBR-TVBR observation: My, how times change. When we were young, you usually had to get either a fanzine or a comic book to find advertising for this sort of product. We still remember a George Carlin line about a mythical (we think) product called Vacutex which promised to remove zits by vacuum. The FTC should be prepared to be on this particular job for a long time – this battle between teens and acne will be waged in perpetuity; only the products and marketing venues will change.