University student Sarah Houston was 23 and receiving treatment for anorexia and bulimia when she was found dead by her flatmate in September last year. A lethal combination of antidepressants and illegal weight loss product Dinitrophenol (DNP) were the cause of her untimely death.
Campaigners warn that these slimming pills will claim more lives if action is not taken. Jim Dobbin, a microbiologist and MP has called for a review of the law in regards to DNP. The drug has been linked to 62 deaths across the globe, but due to a legal loophole it is still available to buy.
Mr Dobbin has said: “It is unacceptable that lives are being put at risk by ineffective legislation and control of Internet trade in potentially lethal products.”
DNP is currently illegal for human consumption, but can legally be sold as a pesticide. Officially the drug is classed as an illegal food, and because of this it has slipped between the cracks of various departments in the UK. According to the Food Standards Agency, the duty lies with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which is a Governmental agency responsible for standards of safety, quality and performance of medicines.
The MHRA has stated that they cannot take legal action against the manufacturers of this drug as it is not technically classed as a medicinal product. DNP was originally a prototype weight-loss product available until 1938 when it was deemed too toxic for humans.
Side effects of this drug include rapid breathing, restlessness and vomiting – and yet it remains easily available through internet suppliers. Sarah Houston, DNP’s latest victim, bought the pills online from a trader in Spain.
Sarah’s father, Geoff Houston has said if those who are selling it have any decency in them, they must stop what they are doing.
If you are suffering from an eating disorder speaking to a counsellor could help you talk through your issues and look ahead to recovery. For more information and to find a counsellor near you, please see our Eating Disorders page.
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