Published: 12:58, March 28, 2024 | Updated: 13:41, March 28, 2024
Japan drugmaker sees 4 deaths over red yeast rice supplement intake
By Reuters

A factory of Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co is seen in Osaka, Japan on March 26, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

TOKYO - Japanese drugmaker Kobayashi Pharmaceutical on Thursday disclosed that the number of death reports has risen to four upon consuming supplements with red yeast rice, or beni-koji, produced by the company.

Two deaths were newly confirmed by the Osaka-based pharmaceutical giant after being contacted by their families on Wednesday, according to the company's latest announcement.

Both deceased individuals had previously taken the company's product named beni-koji choleste help, a type of granules advertised with the effect of lowering cholesterol levels.

One consumer showed symptoms of kidney disease at the time of death, while the other had been taking the product since 2021.

One consumer showed symptoms of kidney disease at the time of death, while the other had been taking the product since 2021

Personal information such as their age and gender was not disclosed by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical.

As the health issue escalates, the Osaka city government on Wednesday issued recall orders for three products containing yeast-fermented rice subject to voluntary recalls, and according to local media reports, the city government plans to issue disposal orders after the completion of the process based on the Food Sanitation Act, suspecting harmful substances.

According to Japan's health ministry, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical said that 106 individuals have been hospitalized upon consuming the supplements, with approximately 3,000 inquiries voicing health concerns received by the company's helpline as of Wednesday.

The beni-koji linked to health issues especially kidney damage was manufactured at Kobayashi Pharmaceutical's Osaka factory. While the company suggested that unexpected mold-derived ingredients may have caused the problem, no specific cause has yet been identified.