App maker: FTC oversight will hinder mHealth advancements

The developer of an mHealth app aimed at improving vision, which has been cited by federal regulators for misleading marketing and lacking scientific data to support claims, believes current government oversight will stall healthcare technology advancement.

Carrot Neurotechnology Inc., which developed the Ultimeyes app, has been fined $150,000 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and ordered to stop marketing the app as a tool that improves a user's vision, according to a Bloomberg BNA report.

Aaron Seitz, co-owner of Carrot Neurotechnology and professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside, told Bloomberg that he and co-owner Adam Goldberg developed the app as a nonprofit tool for public health benefit. In its ruling, the FTC states the company has not provided scientific data to substantiate its marketing claims. The app remains for sale to consumers, reports Bloomberg.

He said any momemtum Carrot Neurotechnology was making has now been stalled, adding that the company at this point is "in the process of regrouping."

The Carrot Neurotechnology Inc. case isn't the first from the FTC. The agency, in January 2015, find an app maker which claimed its game could boost a child's mental acumen and in February of that year fined a melanoma diagnostic app maker for unsubstantiated claims.   

The roles of the FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administation when it comes to mHealth regulation are somewhat murky. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., a fomer FDA official, said in December that the agnecy's approach to mHealth needs to be reworked, as the current strategy leaves innovators in limbo.   

For more information:
- read the Bloomberg BNA article
- read the FTC decision

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