AuraLife, a digital health startup in Newport Beach, Calif., has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, barring it from making unsupported claims in marketing its Instant Blood Pressure smartphone app.
The FTC alleges that AuraLife made deceptive claims to consumers that their app was as accurate as a traditional blood pressure cuff. Further, the FTC charged that AuraLife CEO Ryan Archdeacon provided a positive online review of the app, giving it “five stars” without disclosing his connection to the vendor.
The company and its CEO dispute the FTC’s findings that are the basis for the settlement.
According to the FTC, Aura and Archdeacon made the marketing claim that the app that it could be used to replace around-the-arm cuffs and would be just as accurate as traditional blood pressure measuring devices. However, blood pressure readings reported by the app were significantly less accurate that those from cuffs, the FTC report stated.
“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.”
Under terms of the FTC settlement, AuraLife and Archdeacon are barred from making unsupported claims in the future, and they must disclose any material connections between the company and people who endorse its products.
“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,” according to the FTC. “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.”
AuraLife and Archdeacon do not admit fault or wrong-doing in the matter. In fact, they say court documents show the FTC complaint does not dispute that AuraLife’s app provides estimates of blood pressure to the performance characteristics published by the vendor.
“When it comes to the protection and safety of consumers, we are on the same side of the table as the Commission. It has long been our policy to be transparent about the performance of our products and to clearly communicate their intended use,” said Archdeacon in a written statement.
“Our company feels that the agency’s heavy-handed approach can stifle innovation with a costly and bureaucratic process. The company believes a conversation regarding potential concerns early on would have allowed the Commission and the company to reach a swift resolution, saving time, energy and taxpayer dollars,” added Archdeacon.
Overall, AuraLife said it views the FTC settlement as a “win” for the company, and that it would not have agreed to settle the matter had any payment been required.
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