Four Deaths May Be Linked to Dietary Supplements Made by Japan’s Kobayashi Pharmaceutical: Report

By Trisha Andrada

Mar 28, 2024 07:06 AM EDT


(Photo : Roberto Sorin on Unsplash)

Two further fatalities may have been caused by the nutritional supplements made by a Japanese pharmaceutical company that has been the subject of an increasing health concern.

More than 100 individuals were hospitalized, and the number of fatalities being investigated by the corporation and the health ministry now stands at four, according to the announcement on Thursday, March 28, as reported by AFP News Agency.

Two Further Fatalities Reported by the Japanese Drugmaker

Following customer reports of kidney issues, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical withdrew three different supplement products last week, including Beni Koji Choleste Help and two others. A component known as red yeast rice, or "beni koji," is used in over-the-counter medicines with the claim of lowering cholesterol.

The pharmaceutical company said in a statement that a Choleste Help user has died from kidney disease, according to the individual's family. The drugmaker also received independent reports of the death of another individual who had been using the same medication over the last several years.

"We are in the process of confirming the facts and causal relationships in both of these cases," Kobayashi Pharmaceutical stated.

Red yeast rice has been described in medical research as a potential alternative to statins for treating excessive cholesterol. However, depending on its chemical composition, there is a risk of organ damage.

Analysis may have revealed substances that Kobayashi Pharmaceutical did not plan to add to its products, the company stated. However, it said that no citrinin, a poison that may harm the kidneys, was detected in the red yeast rice.

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Separate Recalls Issued for Other Impacted Products

In Japan, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical advertises and sells a variety of health goods on television. The Osaka-based business claims to have provided red yeast rice to two Taiwanese companies and around 50 additional Japanese companies.

Yoshimasa Hayashi, a spokesperson for the government, said on Thursday that the authorities were doing their best to ensure food safety, which included determining what component caused the health damage and how it ended up in the product.

According to him, the Japanese government has informed other nations about the problem via its embassies and has asked a number of health food manufacturers to evaluate their goods.

Separate recalls have been issued by dozens of Japanese enterprises that used beni koji supplied by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical. Among the impacted items are nutritional supplements, sparkling sake, salad dressing, bread, and miso paste, which is a staple in many traditional recipes.

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