Concerns over fat burning drug DNP as GP enquiries rise

24/06/14

DNP pills

There has been a rise in the number of doctors asking for professional advice about the fat burning drug DNP.

New research by the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) shows there were six enquiries in 2012 compared to 300 last year.

The pill speeds up a person's metabolism and can cause organ failure.

It's banned as a weight loss drug but 2,4 Dinitrophenol, or DNP, is available online because it is a legitimately-used pesticide.

Prof Simon Thomas is a consultant physician and says young men are particularly at risk.

We know that there are people who use it over a period of time and have been fine and then suddenly develop high fevers and multi-organ failures and end up in hospital
Prof Simon Thomas
Consultant physician

"Half of the patients referred to us are under the age of 24," he said.

"We think the most likely group are men who are using DNP as part of a body-building and body-sculpting regime."

Writing in the Emergency Medical Journal, NPIS staff say they believe more people are using the drug because there's been an increase in enquiries.

"One of the worrying things about DNP is the unpredictability," added Prof Simon Thomas.

"We know that there are people who use it over a period of time and have been fine and then suddenly developed high fevers and multi-organ failures and end up in hospital."

Sarah Houston died after taking DNP

30 people suffered harmful effects after taking DNP between 2007 and 2013.

Half of them had a fever, two in five had abnormally fast heartbeats or sweating, 27% had nausea or vomiting and 23% suffered breathing difficulties.

Five of them died.

One user spoke to the BBC's Inside Out in February.

"They might not have been aware of the dosage, so that's how this could've occurred.

"It's not as bad a drug if you know what you're doing. I think that these people probably didn't have the correct dosage and probably didn't know about getting very dehydrated."

Joe from Kent used to be into bodybuilding and used DNP
Image caption Joe from Kent used to be into bodybuilding and used DNP

Former solider Joe, 25, from Kent, has also taken DNP and said: "I got it from someone I knew from bodybuilding who was doing a competition. I suppose you could call him a steroid dealer."

He doesn't take it any more saying he's now into motorbikes instead.

"I was taking the product once a day," he said. "I upped it to two, it was awful to take and made me feel very lethargic,.

"I literally had no energy whatsoever, was constantly down, it was horrible and I'd never take it again. But admittedly it did work."

In April 2013, following the inquest into the death of Sarah Houston who died from taking DNP, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to "look carefully" at how to highlight the dangers of banned weight-loss drugs being sold legally for other uses.

Her family has called for the slimming pill to be made illegal and say it is "incomprehensible" it can be bought online.

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