The health ministry and local authorities on Saturday inspected a Kobayashi Pharmaceutical factory in Osaka following reports of deaths and hospitalizations possibly linked to its red yeast rice dietary supplements.

The factory in western Japan, which was making the ingredients of the supplements, shut down in December. But the ministry and the local government decided to carry out an on-site inspection in light of the widening health problems regarding the Osaka-based company's products containing beni-koji red yeast rice.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical has so far reported a total of five deaths and the hospitalizations of more than 110 people as possibly linked to the red yeast rice dietary supplements. About 680 have either seen a doctor due to health issues or wish to do so.