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2 more people die after taking Kobayashi Pharma supplement

Gong Zhe

 , Updated 21:00, 28-Mar-2024

Four people have died after taking a dietary supplement produced by Japanese pharmaceutical giant Kobayashi Pharma. The supplement, "beni-koji choleste help," is a type of granule marketed for lowering cholesterol.

Kobayashi Pharma confirmed the two latest deaths on Wednesday after being contacted by the families. Both individuals had previously taken beni-koji choleste help. One had started to show signs of kidney disease when they died, while the other had consumed the product since 2021.

Hospitalizations and public concern

According to Japan's health ministry, 93 individuals have been hospitalized after consuming the supplements. Kobayashi Pharma's helpline has also received over 12,000 inquiries related to health concerns as of Wednesday.

The incident is the first time a manufacturer has publicly linked a functional food product to deaths and initiated a voluntary recall since the system's introduction in 2015. Kobayashi Pharma has faced criticism for its response, with shareholders expressing anger at the company's handling of the situation, according to a report from China Media Group (CMG).

Cause of illness under investigation

The beni-koji in question was produced at Kobayashi Pharma's Osaka factory. The company suspects unexpected mold-derived ingredients may be the culprit, but the specific cause remains unidentified.

It has caused significant public concern about the safety of such products among Japanese people.

"I'm worried because it's a company I trusted," a resident told CMG. "I hope we can find out what's going on soon."

Residents emphasized the importance of transparency and swift action. "People buy their products based on trust," another said. "They should release information faster. This is a health-related issue."

Government response

The Osaka city government has issued recall orders for three yeast-fermented rice products, including beni-koji choleste help. They plan to follow up with disposal orders based on the Food Sanitation Act. Products linked to the incident are being removed from store shelves.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called for an investigation. "We need to determine the cause and consider necessary responses," he said.

The government is launching an emergency inspection campaign targeting over 6,000 functional food products.

(Wu Rong contributed to this story. With input from Xinhua. Cover via CMG.)

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