The diet pill 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) could be added to the list of regulated poisons, the UK government has announced.
In a statement, the Home Office announced a consultation on re-classifying the drug as a poison, following advice issued by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
If the drug is re-classified it will mean that DNP could only be sold legitimately to a member of the public by a registered pharmacist, and then only to someone with a licence issued by the Home Office.
Currently, the compound is illegal to sell as a food or medical product, but can be sold legally as a fertiliser, wood preservative dye or pesticide, and it is widely available to buy online.
Responding on behalf of the security minister in a letter addressed to Owen Bowden-Jones, chair of the ACMD, on 26 January 2021, Baroness Williams of Trafford said that the Home Office had worked with departments across government to tackle the use of DNP.
This, she wrote, included ensuring Border Force had renewed advice on identifying DNP imports; working with law enforcement partners to develop the intelligence picture on DNP facilitation; and working with online marketplaces to help them identify and remove DNP listings.
Gino Martini, chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said the RPS had raised awareness of the dangers of DNP for “many years” and wrote to the then home secretary, Sajid Javid, in 2019, suggesting it should be classified as a poison.
“It’s great news that the Home Office will consult this year on adding DNP to the list of regulated poisons under the 1972 Poisons Act. This means the only legitimate means of sale would be through a registered pharmacy to an individual holding a Home Office licence,” he said.
“We welcome the government’s recognition of the threat of inappropriate supply via online marketplaces and hope that, given their acceptance of the ACMD’s recommendations, they take immediate steps to delist DNP products rather than wait for legislative change.”
Martini said that DNP was an “industrial chemical, unfit for human consumption”.
“We will respond to this consultation and hope to see DNP included as a poison under the 1972 Act as quickly as possible to help prevent further harm to vulnerable individuals.”
The government’s consultation includes possible amendments to the Poisons Act 1972.