Companies that make medical claims need to have some evidence. In one case, Lumosity agreed to return $2 million to customers after the FTC charged it with misleading consumers about how its products could help performance at work and school and delay brain degeneration.
Why is it illegal? Gordon is frequently in a position of talking start-ups out of making false claims, which violate the Federal Trade Commission's rules around advertising. Under the law, such claims must be truthful, and cannot be deceptive or unfair.
Trusting the white coat: According to Gordon, there are also special rules around what's known as "white coat marketing," meaning that paying a clinician to advertise a product that isn't backed up by evidence is treated with even higher scrutiny. "People don't realize it's marketing," she said. "And physicians command a higher level of trust."
Diagnose vs. screen: One common misconception is that diagnosing a disease ("you have a medical condition") is the same thing as screening ("you should seek further medical attention") for it. There is a regulatory process associated with both sorts of claims, but making a diagnosis requires a far greater investment into clinical studies and research.