Kidney Issues Linked to Popular Health Supplements Triggers Major Recall in Japan

Red mould supplement pill linked to deaths and hospitalisations pulled from shelves in Japan

In a recent development, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, based in Osaka, has issued a recall of several health supplement brands containing the ingredient ‘benikoji’ following reports of kidney-related complaints from customers. The Japanese government ordered the recall after two deaths and more than 100 hospitalizations were suspected to be linked to the supplements.

The ingredient Monascus purpureus, a red mould commonly used as a food colouring, is found in the recalled supplements. The company is currently investigating the potential connection between their products and the adverse effects on kidneys. The other over 40 brands containing benikoji have also been recalled, including items like miso paste, crackers, and vinegar dressing.

Health Minister Keizo Takemi has urged Kobayashi Pharmaceutical to provide information promptly and collect data on potential health damage caused by the supplements. The official from the ministry warned that there may be more victims in the coming days and advised everyone to avoid benikoji, especially those with pre-existing health conditions.

While red yeast rice is known to be an alternative to statins for lowering cholesterol levels, medical studies caution about the risks of organ damage depending on its composition. Though it is unclear if any of the ingredients were imported, this incident marks the first significant recall of a domestically produced health supplement in Japan.

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