What You Don't Know About Your Health Apps Could Hurt You

August 6, 2014 12:38 PM

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If you enter "health" as a search term in the Google Play store, the results stretch down forever: calorie counters; blood-pressure testers; a music-therapy app. There's no shortage of so-called mobile health (mHealth) apps for those who want to turn their phones into a small corner of a health clinic. As of March 2013, notes a new article in The New England Journal of Medicine, there were 97,000 mHealth apps available. The problem, argue the authors, is that these apps aren't effectively regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and, as a result, many of them could be useless, if not harmful.

In 2011, Pfizer sent a Dear Doctor letter warning that its Rheumatology Calculator app was generating mistakenly high and low scores for measuring tender and swollen joints in patients with arthritis, [PDF]. In 2012, Sanofi Aventis recalled its diabetes app because it was miscalculating insulin dose...

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