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5 Dead and Over 100 Hospitalized From Recalled Japanese Health Supplements

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So says a headline (1) on the website,  The company product was beni koji, a form of red rice yeast, which some people take to control elevated lipid levels. Company president, Akihiro Kobayashi stated, “We apologize deeply.” Per the article, he bowed for a long time, then, expressed remorse to those who have died and have been sickened, and to their families. He also apologized for the troubles caused to the entire health food industry and the medical profession, adding that the company was working to prevent further damage and improve crisis management.

I found this article on a medical website so striking that I had to respond. I wrote, “In other news, “clinicians have access to an armamentarium of more than 10,000 prescription medications, and nearly one-third of adults in the United States take 5 or more medications. Each year, ADEs account for nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations.” Sadly, when confronted with a splinter in someone’s eye, we never acknowledge the wooden beam in our own eye.

I do commend for publishing my response, but in my 53 years in this field, I’ve never witnessed any pharmaceutical company president apologizing for the complications and/or deaths imposed by their drugs.

Yes, we are all saddened for the 5 people who died while taking this particular recalled red yeast rice product. But no more than we should be for the tens of thousands of people who die annually while taking prescriptive medication exactly as they were prescribed, recommended, and dispensed.  Something must change, but I know better than to believe that it ever will in my lifetime.


1. MedPage Today: 5 Dead and Over 100 Hospitalized From Recalled Japanese Health Supplements | MedPage Today

2. Patient Safety Network:


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