Marketers of Blood-Pressure App Settle FTC Charges Regarding Accuracy of App Readings
According to the Federal Trade Commission on December 12, the marketers of a mobile app designed to measure blood pressure have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceived consumers with claims that their Instant Blood Pressure (IBP) app was as accurate as a traditional blood pressure cuff. In addition, the Commission alleged that the owner provided a positive review of the app, rating it “five stars” in the app stores, without disclosing his connection to the company.
Under the terms of the FTC settlement, Aura Labs, Inc., doing business as AuraLife and AuraWare, and its founder and co-owner, Ryan Archdeacon, are barred from making such unsupported claims in the future and must disclose any material connections between Aura and people who endorse its products.
“For someone with high blood pressure who relies on accurate readings, this deception can actually be hazardous,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While the Commission encourages the development of new technologies, health-related claims should not go beyond the scientific evidence available to support them.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, Aura sold the IBP app through Google Play and Apple’s App Store for between $3.99 and $4.99. Between June 2014 and June 2015, sales of the app totaled more than $600,000, according to the agency. In marketing the app, Aura and Archdeacon claimed that it could be used to replace around-the-arm cuffs and would be just as accurate as the traditional device, the FTC charged.
In reality, however, blood pressure readings reported by the IBP app were significantly less accurate than those taken with a traditional blood pressure cuff. To use the company’s IBP app, users put their right index finger over the phone’s rear camera lens and held the base of the phone over their heart. The Commission charged defendants with violating the FTC Act.
The stipulated federal court order prohibits the defendants from making the deceptive claims alleged in the complaint. It also prohibits them from making any claims about the health benefits of any product or device without the scientific evidence to support the claims. It imposes a judgment of $595,945.27, which is suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. The full amount will become due, however, it they are later found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and stipulated order was 3-0. The FTC filed the complaint and order in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and the order has now been signed by the judge.