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Extreme weight loss drug to be reclassified as a poison

By Isabel Shaw

29 Jan 2021

The ‘diet drug’ Dinitrophenol (DNP) is to be reclassified as a poison after the Government accepted a recommendation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

There have been mounting concerns regarding the safety of the weight loss drug for human use, following reports of at least 21 deaths in the UK related to DNP since 2013.

According to a letter sent by the Home Office (26 January) to the chair of the ACMD, the Government will ‘aim to consult this year on possible amendments to the Poisons Act 1972, which will include adding DNP to the list of regulated poison’.

If the drug is added to the list of regulated poisons it will only be legal to sell it at a registered pharmacy, and only to an individual holding a licence issued by the Home Office.

The sale of DNP for human consumption is currently illegal in the UK, however it is still marketed illegally online and sold via websites, social media and in gyms as a drug that promotes extreme weight loss.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) – which wrote to the former home secretary, Sajid Javid MP in 2019 requesting a ban on the drug – welcomed the Government’s recognition of the dangers of DNP.

Gino Martini, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s chief scientist, said: ‘We welcome the Government’s recognition of the threat of inappropriate supply via online marketplaces and hope that given their acceptance of the ACMD’s recommendations, they take immediate steps to delist DNP products rather than wait for legislative change.

‘DNP is an industrial chemical, unfit for human consumption and individuals who sell it as a ‘weight loss aid’ have already caused far too many deaths, harm and heartache for families across the country. Their only aim is to exploit and profit from people with weight loss issues.’

He added: ‘We will respond to this consultation and hope to see DNP included as a poison under the 1972 Act as quickly as possible to help prevent further harm to vulnerable individuals.’

According to RPS’ letter to Mr Javid in 2019, DNP accelerates the metabolism to a very high and dangerous level. As a result, the body’s temperature increases, which can damage organs such as muscle, the kidneys and brain.

DNP can also cause seizures, coma, kidney failure, muscle damage and bone marrow failure.

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