The Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer of the dietary supplement associated with five deaths and more than 100 hospitalizations in Japan said this Friday that it does not know the exact cause of the health problems allegedly caused by the consumption of the product, also sold in other Asian countries.

The company Kobayashi Pharmaceutical announced this Friday a new death from kidney disease in a person who consumed tablets with red yeast rice, sold as a supplement to lower cholesterol, bringing the total number of deaths recorded so far to five.

Those responsible for the company, based in Osaka, Western Japan, made their first public appearance this Friday since reports of deaths and hospitalizations due to kidney dysfunction and other health problems in people who took the supplement emerged in recent days. dietary.

Another 114 people were hospitalized in Japan after taking the supplement, while several hundred others sought medical assistance for possible problems related to its use.


The relationship between the products and health problems was established by medical professionals who, in January and February of this year, began reporting cases of patients who had taken the supplements to Kobayashi Pharmaceutical.

The company then began testing whether the products had been contaminated by any harmful substance during the production process, but so far it has not been able to identify any foreign agent, said its president, Akihiro Kobayashi, this Friday.

“From now on, we request the full assistance of the government and the Ministry of Health to investigate the causes,” said the company’s chief executive officer, Atsushi Watanabe, who also admitted that the company “should have done this sooner”.

Japanese Health Minister Keizo Takemi stated that an inter-ministerial working group was created with the drug manufacturer to clarify the situation, following a meeting of the Council of Ministers that took place this Friday. A telephone call center was also created for consumers and companies that purchased the products.

Japanese authorities confirmed the collection of around 4,350 packages of three products sold by Kobayashi, less than 1% of the more than one million sold since its launch in 2021 to date. The company itself voluntarily recalled a total of 300,000 packages of products containing red yeast rice.

The pharmaceutical company distributed red yeast rice to 52 other national and foreign companies, which it requested to withdraw its products, and which may have resold the products to another 173 companies.

The drug manufacturer said this Friday that the affected products were also on sale in Taiwan, through an intermediary company, and in China, through e-commerce platforms. Watanabe said the company sent employees to Taiwan to help its distributor recall the product and could not confirm whether online sales of the supplements in China had been cancelled.

Red yeast rice is a food that has an active ingredient that is potentially effective in reducing cholesterol levels (monacolin K), but which may also contain a type of toxin that causes kidney failure and which, according to Kobayashi, was not found in the products collected so far.


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