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 2,4- Dinitrophenol (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. This is an increase on the previous three years.
The letter outlines the dangerous nature of DNP:
“DNP is an industrial chemical that is unfit for human consumption and illegal for use in foodstuffs. Despite best efforts to remove products from sale, this product is still available and may be used by people trying to alter their appearances, such as bodybuilders and those attempting to achieve rapid or extreme weight loss, including some who are vulnerable.
“DNP is usually sold as a yellow powder, sometimes in capsule form and is marketed as a ‘fat burner’ or weight loss supplement.”
The letter highlights the fact that certain social media platforms have been harnessed to encourage the distribution of DNP and also to make false claims that it is safe:
“Suppliers of DNP target chatrooms on social media and may lead discussions on so-called ‘safe’ dosage. DNP, however, is highly toxic, there is no defined ‘safe’ dose and the chemical and should not be consumed under any circumstances.”
The letter continues by outlining the clinic features of consumption of DNP can cause vomiting, fever and nausea, and, in the most severe cases, seizures, coma or death.
“Clinical features of DNP poisoning include fever, dehydration, thirst, nausea, vomiting, agitation, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headaches, rapid respiration and a rapid or irregular pulse. In severe cases, seizures, muscular spasms, hyperpyrexia, rhabdomyolysis, coma and death may occur.”