Health threat in Japan: Drug makers say two more deaths linked to supplements | Health Issues


Kobayashi Pharma also recalled cholesterol-lowering foods containing red yeast rice for possible links to kidney disease.

A Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer whose nutritional supplements are among a growing fear of health He has said that two other deaths may be linked to cholesterol-lowering pills.

Thursday’s announcement by Kobayashi Pharmaceuticals brings the number of deaths under investigation by the company and the health ministry to four, with more than 100 people hospitalized.

Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida he told parliament on Thursday that “we need to be clear about what caused it [of the illnesses] and consider different solutions if necessaryā€¯.

He is responding to an opposition politician who urged him to reform the security system that was reformed under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Last week, Kobayashi recalled three of its supplements, including Beni Koji Choleste Support, after about 106 customers were hospitalized for kidney problems.

Products on the market contain an ingredient called red yeast rice, or “beni koji”, which is supposed to help reduce bad cholesterol.

The company said on Thursday that it was “verifying the facts and relationships” of the two supplements and “decided to make the report public for prompt disclosure”.

“Beni koji” contains Monascus purpureus, a red mold that is also used as a dye.

People’s concerns

Government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference that the government has urged the pharmaceutical company to “take immediate action to find out the cause” and disclose the cause because “public concern is spreading”, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

The Osaka-based drugmaker did not say why, but said there was a possibility that the products contained “ingredients that we did not want to include”.

The fermentation process can release a toxin called citrinin that can damage the kidneys, however, the company said its analysis did not detect any citrinin.

Medical studies describe red yeast rice as an alternative to statins for lowering high cholesterol, and warn of the risk of organ damage due to its chemical composition.

In addition to the supplements, more than 40 products from other companies containing “beni koji”, including miso paste, crackers and vinegar dressing, were recalled, the health ministry said.

Hayashi said Japan is sharing information with the World Health Organization and relevant countries after online sales of the voluntarily recalled drugs were suspended in China, while supplies were also withdrawn from Taiwan.

The company supplies red yeast rice to about 50 companies in Japan and two in Taiwan.

A Kobayashi official said last week that the company had received complaints about kidney problems in January.



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