Benikoji Supplement Likely Caused Renal Failure in 2 Japanese Women, Doctor Says; Supplement Users Urged to Get Checked

Courtesy of Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.
Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.’s supplement product Benikoji CholesteHelp

A woman was found to have an acute kidney injury after she resumed taking a supplement made with benikoji red rice mold following her release from a hospital, her doctor told The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The doctor has treated the patient and another woman, both of whom developed an acute kidney injury after taking Benikoji CholesteHelp supplement. He believes their renal failures are highly likely to have been caused by a substance in the product, produced by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co., as neither woman was taking other medicine, nor did they have any chronic diseases.

Both patients were eventually diagnosed as suffering from renal tubular defects, in which kidney cells are damaged. They are now recovering after being treated.

Yasuhito Takahashi, head of the nephrology department at Fuji City General Hospital in Shizuoka Prefecture, said the women are in their 40s and 50s.

One of the two reportedly took Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s supplement for a few months from the middle of last year. She was hospitalized after complaining of fatigue and a lack of appetite. The patient did not take the supplement while in the hospital. She recovered thanks to hydration and nutrients she received through intravenous drips, and was released from the hospital late last year.

At that time, the woman didn’t know that her health problems were linked to the supplement, and she started taking it again after leaving the hospital. Her health worsened, and she was hospitalized again earlier this year.

After a detailed medical exam, she was diagnosed as suffering from a renal tubular disorder.

The other woman treated by Takahashi reportedly began taking the same supplement about six months ago and was hospitalized earlier this year after complaining of feeling ill. She was also diagnosed as suffering from a renal tubular disorder. The patient recovered after being treated and left the hospital.

“Both women were originally in good health and were not taking any medicine. So, it’s suspected that their problems were caused by the supplement,” Takahashi said.

“People with kidney problems often have no symptoms,” he added. “Sometimes, you don’t find these problems with just blood tests. I urge those who have taken the supplement and are aware of a problem to contact a medical institution as soon as possible.”