Health Ministry Confirms Puberulic Acid as Cause of Health Damage to People Who Consumed Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s Red Yeast Supplements

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A package of the Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.’s supplements in question

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said it has confirmed that puberulic acid produced by blue mold causes kidney damage, as it investigates a series of problems experienced by people who consumed Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.’s supplement products that contained red yeast.

The ministry suspects that blue mold contaminated ingredients during the cultivation of red yeast, as puberulic acid was detected in the ingredients. It will continue its investigation.

A large number of people who took the Osaka-based company’s supplements later developed kidney disease.

Research by the Japanese Society of Nephrology confirmed that some of the patients suffered from Fanconi syndrome, a phenomenon in which the function of renal tubules in the kidneys deteriorates.

According to the ministry, animal testing on the effects of puberulic acid on the kidneys found that the kidneys of rats given the acid suffered necrosis and other damage.

A ministry official said, “We cannot conclude this at the current stage, but it is possible that puberulic acid is the cause of the harm to people’s health.”

Blue mold was found in cultivation chambers and tanks at the company’s factories in Osaka and Wakayama prefectures.

The ministry said the blue mold was collected and cultivated, resulting in the production of puberulic acid.

Two compounds other than puberulic acid were also found in the products produced between June and August last year, during which many complaints regarding health issues were reported.

The ministry suspects that they were also produced because the blue mold got into the cultivation process, adding that it is possible that the two are unknown compounds.

The effects of the two types of compounds on health are not known, so the ministry will conduct further testing and research.