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Japanese authorities order Kobayashi Pharma to recall red yeast rice pills after 2 deaths

TOKYO — Japanese authorities on Wednesday (March 27) ordered drugmaker Kobayashi Pharmaceutical to recall three dietary supplement products containing red yeast rice, or beni koji, after they were linked to two deaths.

More than 100 people have been hospitalised after taking the supplements, which were marketed as helping to lower cholesterol levels, the government said.

The Osaka-based drugmaker said it was investigating a suspected link between the products and their effects on the kidney.

Beni koji contains Monascus purpureus, a red mould that is also used as a red colouring in some foods.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical this week urged 52 manufacturers to recall a wide range of products such as tofu and miso which use beni koji that it supplies.

The company's share price has fallen nearly 20 per cent since Friday when it first issued a voluntary recall of its own supplements. On Wednesday, they closed down 3.8 per cent at 4,875 yen (S$43.40).

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