Business | Mar 30

'Pulegone' Identified as Possible Cause of Toxic Poisonings

TOKYO, Mar 30 (News On Japan) - A potentially lethal toxin, known as "Pulegone," has emerged as a suspect in the controversy surrounding Kobayashi Pharmaceutical's red yeast rice supplements.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Faces Red Yeast Supplement Crisis

The company has repeatedly apologized as the death toll continues to rise.

Kobayashi Akihiro, President of Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, expressed his condolences, "We pray for the repose of our customers who have passed away and offer our deepest sympathies to their bereaved families."

In the wake of health issues reported from consuming supplements made from red yeast rice, or 'beni koji,' Kobayashi Pharmaceutical announced another death. The individual had consumed "Beni Koji Cholesterol Help."

While the causal link is still being investigated, the latest fatality, attributed to kidney disease, brings the total reported deaths to five. Additionally, there are 114 hospitalized cases.

The company has been inundated with inquiries about the health issues, prompting a press conference to discuss the latest developments.

Kajita Keisuke, head of the Healthcare Business Food Category, said, "Over the past week, we've uncovered the structure of the 'unknown component.' Going forward, we will collaborate with national research institutions to provide our data for further analysis. If the compound is what we suspect, it could be produced by mold. We cannot deny this possibility at the moment, but we have yet to arrive at precise information. We aim to clarify this as soon as possible."

Questions about the "unknown component" dominated the press conference held at 2 PM on the 29th, but details remain undisclosed.

Kajita reiterated, "We do not have a clear plan yet for revealing the 'unknown component.' Our response is that we will clarify this promptly."

Consumers' concerns remain unassuaged.

A man in his 50s, who started taking the supplement late last month, shared, "The increasing reports of deaths are worrisome. I went for a blood test today, and the results will take a few days."

He had been taking "Red Yeast Cholesterol Help" for about 20 days, identified on Kobayashi Pharmaceutical's website as possibly containing the "unknown component." Fortunately, he has not experienced any adverse effects.

In Ibaraki Prefecture, three individuals have reported health issues, prompting a press conference by the local health department.

"Three cases of health problems have been confirmed as of last night at 7 PM. All three had consumed 'Red Yeast Cholesterol Help,'" reported the Health and Medical Department's Public Health Division.

These individuals reported symptoms such as swelling and fatigue in their limbs, with one having been hospitalized for about three weeks.

Tokyo has also reported 25 suspected cases of health issues related to the supplement, currently under investigation by local health offices.

When asked about compensation, the executive officer Watanabe Jun, head of the Reliability Assurance Department, replied, "There are 114 hospitalized individuals and approximately 680 people who are either outpatient or wish to seek outpatient treatment."

High Toxicity 'Pulegone' Suspected as the Cause

In a joint online press conference held on Friday afternoon by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and the National Institute of Health Sciences, it was revealed that Pulegone might be the "unknown component" in question.

A Ministry official stated, "We detected unexpected substance peaks in the affected product lots. Analysis identified the substance as Pulegone. The National Institute is currently verifying whether it is indeed Pulegone, a natural compound that can be produced by certain types of mold, such as Penicillium."

Pulegone is notably toxic, and its specific effects, particularly on the kidneys, remain under investigation.

Source: ANN

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