Health News

Health Supplement Horror: Five Dead and Dozens Hospitalized in a Pharma Scandal

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United States: A Japanese health supplement has tragically claimed the lives of five individuals, with over 100 others hospitalized as of Friday. This grim situation unfolded a week following the recall issued by Osaka-based Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co., shedding light on internal issues dating back to January. However, the public announcement only surfaced on March 22.

Initially, the death toll was reported at two, but on Friday, company officials revised the number to five. Additionally, 114 individuals were receiving medical attention in hospitals after consuming products, such as Benikoji Choleste Help, designed to combat high cholesterol. Shockingly, these supplements contained benikoji, a red mold species, causing kidney complications among consumers, according to AP News.

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The manufacturer is collaborating with government laboratories to investigate the exact cause of these adverse effects. President Akihiro Kobayashi expressed profound regret and extended apologies to the victims and their families. He also acknowledged the disruption caused to the health food industry and medical community, pledging efforts to mitigate further harm and enhance crisis management.

In response to the crisis, the company initiated a product recall, including various benikoji-containing items like miso paste and crackers. Japan’s health ministry issued a comprehensive list of recalled products on its official website, cautioning that the death toll might rise. The accessibility of these supplements without a prescription, coupled with potential purchases before the recall, exacerbates the risk, particularly among unaware tourists, as per AP.

Although Kobayashi Pharmaceutical had a long history of selling benikoji products, issues emerged with supplements manufactured in 2023. Analysts attribute this crisis to recent deregulation initiatives aimed at expediting approval processes for health products, inadvertently compromising consumer safety.

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