2 More Deaths Linked to Benikoji Confirmed; Japan’s Kobayashi Pharmaceutical President Apologizes at Shareholders Meeting (Update 1)

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The venue of Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.’s general shareholders meeting in Kita Ward, Osaka, on Thursday morning

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. said Thursday that two more people who had taken supplements containing its benikoji red rice mold have been confirmed dead due to health problems, bringing the total number of such deaths to four.

The company is recalling its products containing benikoji, but the full scope of the impact remains unknown.

According to Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, the families of the two supplement users contacted the company on Wednesday. Both had taken in the company’s supplement product Benikoji CholesteHelp, and one of them had continued to take it since 2021. They are believed to have died due to aggravated kidney conditions.

The company held a general shareholders meeting at a hotel in Osaka on Thursday morning. According to the company, its President Akihiro Kobayashi said at the beginning of the meeting, “We deeply apologize for causing enormous trouble as health problems, such as kidney disease, have occurred to people who have taken the product our company has sold.”

He went on to say that the number of deaths linked to benikoji has risen to four.

“We pray for the souls of the people who have passed away and for the speedy recovery of those who have suffered health problems,” Kobayashi said. “The entire company will do its utmost to prevent further problems and identify the cause.”

The shareholders meeting was closed to all but the company’s shareholders.