Worldwide alert over lethal ‘diet’ drug DNP

Interpol has issued a warning to 190 police forces across the world, including gardaí, in relation to 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP), which it describes as “an illicit and potentially lethal” drug used as a dieting and body-building aid.

The drug — which is also used as a base material in explosives — is sold illegally online and has been responsible for a number of deaths in recent years, most recently that of a 21-year-old English woman who took it in the form of slimming tablets last month.

Eloise Parry from Shrewsbury began feeling unwell at lunchtime on April 12, after taking the drugs, and died in hospital. Her mother said two tablets were a lethal dose and her daughter had accidentally taken eight.

Her death prompted the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) here to issue a public warning on the dangers of buying potentially lethal diet pills online.

In issuing its ‘orange’ alert, Interpol also pointed to a recent case of a French man left seriously ill after taking the substance.

RELATED: Mum of 21-year-old who died after taking "diet pills" has a message for you

At the start of the year, the World Anti-Doping Agency told Interpol an accredited anti-doping laboratory had received an unknown substance to be analysed, which was identified as DNP.

“Although usually sold in yellow powder or capsule form, DNP is also available as a cream,” an Interpol spokesman said. “Besides the intrinsic dangers, the risks associated with its use are magnified by illegal manufacturing conditions. In addition to being produced in clandestine laboratories with no hygiene regulations, without specialist manufacturing knowledge the producers also expose consumers to an increased chance of overdose.”

DNP was used in the 1930s to stimulate metabolism, but was withdrawn because of severe side-effects and its high risk of mortality.

In the 1980s, medical teams tried to reintroduce it as a nutritional supplement, but it was again withdrawn following the death of a patient. The doctor responsible was convicted.

Interpol said DNP has resurfaced on the black market.

“The product’s toxicity and the significant risk of mortality associated with its consumption remain a cause for concern for pharmaceutical and medical specialists,” it said. “Not only is consuming the product dangerous in itself, but combining it with other performance-enhancing drugs, such as clenbuteral, multiplies the risks for the consumer.”

RELATED: Lethal dieting pills for sale online

In most recent case, DNP had been ordered from the website drmusclepharmaceuticals.com and sent by post to a consumer’s address.

On the box was written: “Health and Beauty Turmeric capsules Extra Strength 125mg each capsule. Contains 125mg of Turmeric Powder DO NOT USE IF SEAL IS BROKEN.”

Interpol said: “In order to divert the attention of law enforcement agents, the DNP distributors take advantage of the product’s resemblance to a spice (yellow powder), to falsely claim that the capsules contained turmeric.”

HPRA has produced a leaflet entitled ‘Dangers of Buying Medicines Online’, which is available at www.hpra.ie.

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