The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called for a full ban on sales of the so-called “diet drug” 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) in response to a government consultation.
A Home Office consultation on Amendments to the Poisons Act 1972, which closed on 10 March 2022, proposed that DNP be added to the UK’s list of regulated poisons. In response, the Society said that while it welcomes this proposal, it “does not go far enough, and we believe that DNP should be completely banned and not supplied under any circumstances”.
DNP is used to make explosives and pesticides, but is also marketed online in pill form as a weight-loss aid — even though it is illegal to sell the compound as a food or medical product.
Since 2007, 32 people have died after taking the drug in an attempt to lose weight.
Noting that “there is no legitimate human or animal use for DNP”, the RPS said it is “concerned that DNP is still in circulation and often targeted to image conscious young people who may want to try quick fixes to improve their body image, particularly in the aftermath of lockdown”.
The Society added that it would “urge the government to immediately ban DNP to reduce the risk of harm, to commit to prosecuting those seeking to profit from it, and to encourage other countries to do the same”.
This latest consultation response is the most recent in a series of calls from the Society for the drug to be banned. In March 2019, Ash Soni and Gino Martini — at the time, president and chief scientist at the RPS, respectively — wrote to then home secretary Sajid Javid, requesting an immediate ban on DNP.
Prior to that letter, in July 2018, the Society’s Science and Research Board called for sales of the drug to be restricted, with then RPS deputy chief scientist Claire Thompson stating that “we would like to see restrictions put in place to prevent DNP being sold, especially in those forms that look like medicines or food supplements”.