The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has called for DNP (dinitrophenol) to be banned completely, after it was announced that the substance would be included in the Poisons Act.

DNP is mainly used in the manufacture of explosives and pesticides but has been packaged and sold as a ‘diet drug’, particularly through online distributors, despite it being classified as unfit for human consumption.

The substance has led to 32 deaths since 2007 among people taking it to lose weight.

RPS president Professor Claire Anderson welcomed the news that DNP would be included in the 1972 Poisons Act, following a recommendation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

She said: ‘DNP is unfit for human consumption and its main use is in the manufacture of explosives and pesticides. It is sold by unscrupulous dealers to vulnerable individuals wanting to lose weight but has a dangerous effect on the metabolism and has led to 32 deaths since 2007 in those taking it as a “diet drug”.’

But Professor Anderson added that regulations should go further and ban sale of the substance completely.

‘Including DNP in the Poisons Act is a positive move as it will restrict its availability, but what’s really needed is an outright ban to reduce the risk to the public. Australia has already classified DNP as a substance of such a danger to health as to warrant prohibition of sale and we’d like the UK to follow suit.

‘We are concerned that DNP is still in circulation and want to see a firm commitment to prosecuting those who make profits from it. We also call on social media companies to remove content promoting or selling DNP to further reduce harm,’ she added.