81 deaths potentially due to anti-cholesterol drugs. They are not marketed in Italy

A huge health scandal has broken out in Japan linked to anti-cholesterol food supplements containing red yeast rice and produced by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical. The company has confirmed that 81 people have died after consuming these supplements and is currently examining another 76 cases of suspected deaths. The news was made known after five deaths related to the consumption of the same products were reported in April 2024.

At the moment in Italy there seems to be no problems, since the products are not marketed either in Italy or in Europe, including England.

The withdrawal from the market and the investigations

Following numerous deaths and reports of poisoning, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical has recalled the incriminated cholesterol-lowering dietary supplements from the market. According to health authorities, about 300,000 batches of products have been recalled. The alarm was raised after 166 people were hospitalized for poisoning after taking the supplements in April.

On October 26, 2023, the company was subjected to investigations, but the results of the investigations have not yet been disclosed by the Japanese Ministry of Health. Kobayashi Pharmaceutical said an “unintentional” substance present in batches of supplements produced between July and October last year could be the cause of the poisonings.

The identification of serial numbers on supplements purchased by victims has strengthened the hypothesis that this unwanted substance ended up in products recalled from the market. The Japanese community is shocked by the scale of this tragedy, which has highlighted serious gaps in food quality and safety controls.

Official statements

According to the Japan Times, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical said it is working closely with health authorities to identify the source of the contamination and prevent further incidents. The investigation process is ongoing, and many questions remain unanswered.

Precautionary measures

Meanwhile, health authorities have issued warnings to the population for avoid the purchase and consumption of non-certified food supplements. The affair has also led to increased calls for tighter regulation and more stringent controls on food and supplement products on the Japanese market.

Is there a concrete danger for Italy?

Last April, Kobayashi Healthcare Europe Limited issued an official statement clarifying that it does not manufacture, import or distribute food products containing “Beni-Koji” in the UK and the European Union. The company’s flagship brands, such as Cura-Heat, Kool ‘n’ Soothe, Clearwipe and Hothands, are completely free of this ingredient.

Beni-Koji products are primarily intended for the Japanese market. The decision to voluntarily recall “Beni-Koji Cholestehelp” came after reports of serious health problems. The company urges consumers to immediately stop using the products and contact the company for return procedures.

This precautionary measure was taken to ensure customer safety, although the exact correlation between the product and reported health problems is still under investigation.

Currently, there are no indications that these products are marketed in Italy or the rest of Europe, thus confirming the absence of risk for European consumers. Here is the list of supplements withdrawn last year by the Ministry of Health.