According to the Japanese Health Ministry, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical reported on Tuesday evening that two people have died after taking its dietary supplements containing red yeast rice called “beni koji.” Earlier in the day, the Osaka-based firm issued a statement announcing the “causal relationship” of the product and the death of a customer from kidney failure who had reportedly taken 35 “Beni Koji choleste help” packages between April 2021 and February 2024. The family of the individual, who died last month, emailed Kobayashi on Saturday, informing the company of the person’s death. 

However, due to a huge number of public inquiries — the company received more than 3,000 emails after it announced reports of health problems on Friday — the message wasn’t seen until Monday. Representatives from Kobayashi met with bereaved family members the following day to discuss the deceased’s symptoms and other details. The second death was reported to the Ministry at a hearing with the firm. A doctor’s written comment revealed that the individual’s kidney was damaged. However, at the time of writing, no other details have been disclosed. Kobayashi also informed the Ministry that 106 people have been hospitalized so far. 

Customers Urged to Stop Using Supplements Containing Beni Koji

“Although we are diligently confirming the facts and causal relationships, we would like to report this from the perspective of prompt information disclosure,” Kobayashi said. “Our company has always prioritized the health of our customers above all else, and we sincerely apologize for this situation.”

An investigation began after a doctor alerted the company to reported health problems in January. A hotline for customers was subsequently established. Those affected have reported symptoms such as fatigue, swelling in their limbs and changes in the color of their urine. Last week, Kobayashi issued a voluntary recall of five products. It has also urged customers to stop using any supplements containing beni koji. 

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