Health ministry confirms Puberulic acid as cause of health damage from red yeast supplements

A large number of people who took Kobayashi's supplements later developed kidney disease.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Japan News


A package of the Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.’s supplements in question. PHOTO: THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN

May 30, 2024

TOKYO – The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced Tuesday that it has confirmed that puberulic acid produced by blue mold caused kidney damage, in connection with a series of problems experienced by people who consumed Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co.’s supplement products that contained red yeast.

The ministry suspected that blue mold entered in materials during the cultivation of red yeast. Puberulic acid was detected in the materials.

The ministry will continue the investigation under the assumption that the blue mold produced puberulic acid.

A large number of people who took the Osaka-based company’s supplements later developed kidney disease.

Research by the Japanese Society of Nephrology confirmed that some of the patients suffered from Fanconi syndrome, a phenomenon in which the function of renal tubules in the kidneys deteriorates.

According to the ministry, animal experiments on the effects of puberulic acid on the kidneys found that the kidneys of rats given the acid suffered necrosis and other damage.

A ministry official said, “We cannot conclude this at the current stage, but it is possible that puberulic acid is the cause of health damage.”

Blue mold was found in cultivation chambers and tanks at the company’s factories in Osaka and Wakayama prefectures.

The ministry said that the cultivation of the collected blue mold produced puberulic acid.

Two compounds other than puberulic acid were also found in the products produced between June and August last year, during which many health damage complaints were reported.

The ministry suspects that they were also produced because the blue mold entered in the cultivation process, adding that it is possible that the two are unknown compounds.

The effects of the two types of compounds on health problems are not known, so the ministry will conduct further experiments on animals and other research.

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