Warning over toxic weight loss drug

Chief medical & pharmaceutical officers alert doctors to dangers of industrial chemical used for rapid weight loss

Thursday 14th March 2019

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Dr Rose Marie Parr, have written to healthcare professionals across Scotland to warn them of rising deaths caused by people taking an industrial chemical in a bid to lose weight rapidly. 

The highly toxic DNP is unfit for human consumption but is sold online as a weight loss supplement.

2018 saw 20 cases linked to DNP, including six deaths, the highest number since 2015.

‘Prior to 2012, enquiries to the National Poisons Information Service about cases of DNP toxicity were rare, but the number of cases referred, and documented fatalities, have increased sharply since then.’

‘…there is no defined ‘safe’ dose and the chemical should not be consumed under any circumstances,’ the letter states.

When consumed, DNP can cause vomiting, fever and nausea, and, in the most severe cases, seizures, coma or death.

Long-term use can also affect the skin, eyes, heart and nervous system.

Health professionals seeking further advice on the chemical are advised to contact the National Poisons Information Service.

It is illegal to sell DNP as a weight loss drug but a 2013 NHS warning says:

‘Many websites that offer DNP for sale are based in foreign countries meaning that cutting supply of the drug is difficult. Despite the best efforts of the UK authorities, people determined to buy DNP can do so with ease.’

The Scottish Government is working with the food regulation agency, the health service and Health Protection Scotland to ‘raise awareness of the dangers of this chemical and to remove DNP containing products from sale.’