212 Hospitalised Over Intake Of Japan Kobayashi Pharma’s Red Yeast Rice Supplement

212 Hospitalised Over Intake Of Japan Kobayashi Pharma’s Red Yeast Rice Supplement

TOKYO, Apr 9 (NNN-NHK) – The number of people hospitalised in Japan, due to health damage related to Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s dietary supplement, containing red yeast rice, or beni-koji, had risen to 212, local media reported, yesterday.

The figure was updated as of Sunday, with those who have since been discharged included, national news agency Kyodo, reported, citing the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

The ministry, based on the report from Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, the manufacturer of the beni-koji ingredient, a total of 1,224 have sought medical attention as of Sunday, and about 53,000 inquiries have been directed to the company.

During interviews at Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s headquarters in Osaka on Saturday, discussions were held regarding the two-month gap the drugmaker took, from identifying health damages to making them public, the health ministry added.

In an earlier interview, Hidetoshi Tashiro, chief economist at Japan’s Sigma Capital Ltd., said, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s food safety crisis also revealed problems within the company.

The drugmaker, as a typical Japanese family-owned enterprise, might prioritise family interests over customer interests, in decision-making, said Tashiro, adding, its failure to conduct immediate measures or report to authorities about health damage has exacerbated the crisis.

The Kyodo report noted that, although the Food Sanitation Act requires businesses to make efforts to inform local authorities, when health issues are identified, it is possible that the company was unaware of the situation.

The company’s red yeast rice dietary supplement, named Beni-koji Choleste Help, has been associated with five deaths from kidney diseases.

The product, rolled out in Feb, 2021, is a type of granules advertised with the effect of lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and were sold around one million packages by the end of Feb, this year.

An unintended component called “puberulic acid,” derived from blue mold, has been detected in the company’s product, manufactured at Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s Osaka factory, which shut down in Dec, 2023, according to the health ministry and the company.

The substance is a potent antibacterial and antimalarial agent that can be toxic, but the extent to which its ingestion may pose health risks or cause kidney damage remains unclear, according to the ministry.


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