Viobin and AH Robins May Not Make False or Unsubstantiated Claims
about Effects of Wheat Germ Oil Products on Physical Fitness,
under FTC Consent Agreement

FTC News Release
October 9, 1986

The Federal Trade Commission today charged that Viobin Corp. made false and unsubstantiated claims about its wheat germ oil products. Viobin and its parent company, AH Robins Co. Inc., agreed to settle the charges.

Under a proposed consent agreement, Viobin must inform consumers that the benefits claimed in its long-running advertising campaign are not supported by scientific evidence; and both Viobin and AH Robins are prohibited from misrepresenting the ability of their wheat germ oil products to improve physical fitness or performance.

Viobin claimed that its wheat germ oil products, sold under the brand names Viobin Wheat Germ Oil (liquid), Prometabs (tablets), and Prometol (capsules), would improve consumers' physical fitness and performance by increasing endurance, stamina, total body reaction time, and vigor, as well as helping to overcome fatigue. Viobin made claims such as: "More than 18 years of university research show positive evidence that Viobin Wheat Germ Oil can help athletes increase stamina and endurance plus help them overcome fatigue more quickly. These benefits are achieved separately and apart from the effects of physical training."

In a complaint accompanying the agreement, the Commission charged that Viobin's claims were false and that Viobin's products and its active ingredient, octacosanol, are not effective for their advertised purposes. The Commission also charged that Viobin lacked a reasonable basis for its claims.

Under the proposed order, Viobin and A.H. Robins are prohibited from representing that their wheat germ oil products can help consumers improve endurance, stamina, vigor, or any aspect of athletic fitness, or that octacosanol is in any way related to body reaction time, oxygen uptake, oxygen debt, or athletic performance.

Viobin is also prohibited from misrepresenting the results of any scientific test or research about any product intended for personal or household use. A similar prohibition extends to AH Robins's claims for any wheat germ oil product. Both companies are prohibited from making claims concerning benefits of any personal or household product on athletic performance or endurance unless they are substantiated by reliable and competent evidence.

In addition, Viobin must state, in any ad it runs within the next year, that "earlier studies of the effects of wheat germ oil and octacosanol on endurance, stamina, and vigor do not meet the criteria of modern testing," and that the company no longer claims that such products will improve endurance, stamina, and vigor. Within six months after the order becomes final, Viobin must place an ad including this disclosure in each of the publications that carried its ads in 1985. According to FTC staff, the purpose of this provision is to remedy false impressions created by Viobin's false and deceptive advertising for its wheat germ oil products.

Viobin is based in Monticello, Ill., and is a wholly owned subsidiary of A.H. Robins of Richmond, Va.

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