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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is taking the first steps toward regulating the rapidly expanding field of medical applications, or apps, for smart phones and other handheld devices.

With the rise of the iPhone, Android and other mobile devices has come a flood of applications designed to help people stay healthy. Industry analysts estimate there are already more than 17,000 medical applications available, ranging from calorie counters to programs that let doctors view medical scans on their phones.

The FDA says it will begin regulating a handful of these programs that pose the greatest risk if they don’t work

In a draft proposal, the agency says it will regulate applications that combine with medical devices already regulated by the agency, such as heart monitors that transmit to a smartphone.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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