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Royal Pharmaceutical Society

RPS backs calls to restrict sales of dangerous 'diet pills'

Sale of 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) used as a diet pill should be restricted after being linked to a number of deaths, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s science and research board.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)’s science and research board has renewed calls to restrict online sales of the so-called ‘diet pill’ 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) from unlicensed websites.

Claire Thompson, deputy chief scientist at the RPS

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Claire Thompson, deputy chief scientist at the RPS, warns that DNP should never be used by humans and has called for it to be restricted

Claire Thompson, deputy chief scientist at the RPS, said: “Currently, DNP can be bought online in capsules. This makes it look like [the capsules] are safe to be taken by humans. DNP is not a drug, it is a fertilizer, it should never be consumed by humans. We would like to see it restricted because of the harm it is causing people who are taking it, thinking that it is a drug or food supplement. We would like to see restrictions put in place to prevent DNP being sold, especially in those forms that look like medicines or food supplements.” 

DNP has been linked to a number of deaths in recent years. In June 2018, a man from Gosport was convicted of manslaughter after a 21-year-old woman bought pills from his website and subsequently died in April 2015.

The substance is commonly sold online as a weight loss pill which has become popular in recent years with bodybuilders and others looking to lose weight quickly. 

Websites visited by The Pharmaceutical Journal carry warnings that DNP is toxic and should only be used for “research and laboratory purposes” while also carrying instructions on taking the substance as part of a diet and training schedule.

The RPS has warned that products sold on rogue websites could at best do nothing and at worse cause serious harm and is looking for ways to restrict its availability.

DNP was first marketed as a diet drug in the 1930s but was quickly withdrawn from the market after being linked with deaths in the United States and UK soon after commercial sales began in 1933.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205148

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  • Claire Thompson, deputy chief scientist at the RPS

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