The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is calling on the Government to make an extreme ‘diet drug’ 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) illegal and ‘not supplied under any circumstances’.

The Government recently closed a consultation on re-classifying the drug as a poison, following advice issued by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

If the drug is re-classified it would mean that DNP could only be sold legitimately to a member of the public by a registered pharmacist, and then only to someone with a license issued by the Home Office.

However, the RPS has said the Government must go further and ban the sale of the drug altogether.

Professor Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, said that diet drug should be ‘completely banned’ and ‘not supplied under any circumstances’.

‘There is no legitimate human or animal use for DNP and over the last 15 years 32 people have died from taking it,’ she explained.

Currently, DNP is illegal to sell as a food or medical product but can be sold legally as a fertiliser, wood preservative dye or pesticide. However, it is widely available to buy online via websites, social media and in gyms as a drug that promotes extreme weight loss.

She added: ‘We are concerned that DNP is still in circulation and often targeted to image-conscious young people who may want to try quick fixes to improve their body image. Don’t ever believe what you see online about DNP – if you want to lose weight, talk to a health professional instead.

‘You’re dicing with death if you buy DNP online,’ she said.

Ms Anderson said that if the Government would not consider a ban, then as well as adding DNP to the Poisons List to control its supply, legislation should be passed that prohibits the compounds of DNP.

‘This would make it illegal to put DNP into sachets or capsules for human, animal or agricultural use,’ she explained.