Kobayashi Pharmaceutical President apologizes for 'beni-koji' health scandal

The president of Japanese drugmaker Kobayashi Pharmaceutical apologized at the company shareholders' meeting amid the scandal involving its "beni-koji" supplements. He expressed his intentions to prevent further damage and investigate the cause.

"Beni-koji" is rice that has been fermented with red yeast. Four people died and over 100 have been hospitalized after taking the supplements.

Speaking at a closed-door shareholders' meeting in Osaka, President Kobayashi Akihiro said he is focused on preventing the problem from spreading and to investigate the cause.

Outside the meeting, a company official read out Kobayashi's comments to the media: "We deeply apologize for causing a great deal of trouble. We pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased customers and offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families."

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical says a shareholder pointed out that the company was slow to recall its products after learning about the situation. It explained that the investigation took time and the causal relationship has yet to be clarified.

Shareholders at the venue voiced their concerns. "The company officials didn't clearly admit a cause-and-effect relationship," said one man. "I think their response was not good enough."

Another man offered his opinion: "They said they will take every measure to handle this issue, but I don't think they'll deal with it properly. They probably didn't factor in the cost."

Shareholders approved a company proposal at the meeting to appoint seven directors, including Kobayashi.