'Deadly' Japanese Dietary Supplements Left 5 Dead and 100+ Hospitalized; President Akihiro Kobayashi Apologizes

By Thea Felicity

Mar 29, 2024 10:17 AM EDT

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. President Akihiro Kobayashi (2nd L) and others bow their heads at the beginning of a press conference in Osaka on March 29, 2024. A Japanese drugmaker whose dietary supplements are at the centre of a growing health scare reported on March 28 two more deaths potentially related to its tablets.
(Photo : Photo by STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images)

In a concerning development, ABC News reported that five individuals had lost their lives, and more than 100 others have been hospitalized after consuming Japanese health supplements. 

The crisis happened over the past week following the recall of a line of products by Osaka-based Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co., according to VCPost. In the same report, it's only assumed that four deaths and 100+ individuals may be linked to the recall. 

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

What Was in Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.'s Supplements?

However, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. had already been aware of internal concerns since January, leading to criticism over the company's delayed response. 

Initially, two fatalities were reported, but the death toll later increased to five, with 114 individuals requiring medical attention after consuming supplements containing benikoji, a red mold found notably in the product Benikoji Choleste Help, which is designed to lower cholesterol levels.

Although investigations are ongoing, reports indicate that some victims suffered kidney-related complications. 

President Akihiro Kobayashi expressed regret and issued apologies to the affected families, the broader health food industry, and the medical community, pledging to rectify the situation. 

"We apologize deeply," said Kobayashi President to reporters.

The company took action by recalling various products like Benikoji Choleste Help, as well as others containing benikoji, such as miso paste, crackers, and vinegar dressing. At the same time, Japan's health ministry issued warnings and compiled a list of affected items. 

Worries still linger regarding the possibility of more casualties, amplified by the easy accessibility of the supplements in drugstores prior to the recall. 

According to Japan Times, Analysts speculate that recent deregulation efforts, intended to simplify the approval process for health products, may have unintentionally facilitated the distribution of harmful substances found in Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. supplements.

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