Drugmaker did not inform outside directors of 'beni-koji' problem for 2 months

Japanese drugmaker Kobayashi Pharmaceutical has admitted that it did not inform its external board members of possible health problems with its "beni-koji" supplements until the day it announced they would be recalled.

The company made the announcement in a news conference on March 22, more than two months after it first received a report of suspected health damage from a doctor on January 15.

Company officials say they did not think it was a matter that should be reported to outside directors.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical is recalling three types of health supplements containing ingredients from rice fermented with red yeast called "beni-koji." One of the products is called "Benikoji CholesteHelp."

Many users of the products have reportedly developed kidney disorders and other problems. The company says five died, and 177 have been hospitalized.

Health authorities and the company are investigating. They suspect that Kobayashi's "beni-koji" ingredients may have been responsible.

The drugmaker's board is made up of seven directors. Four are independent members who are expected to provide outside viewpoints.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical said its president, internal directors and other company officers participated in discussions on handling the issue, without reporting the talks to outside directors.