Coroner attacks online dealers who target the vulnerableShe was a healthy medical student whose parents, brother and sister were all doctors. But – obsessed with her weight – Sarah Houston, 23, was secretly taking a banned and dangerous slimming pill. And just when she told her psychiatrist her bulimia was finally under control, the drug, which is linked to 62 deaths worldwide, claimed her life too. Although banned for human consumption, DNP is easily available online – in capsule form – because it is also a pesticide. At her inquest yesterday, coroner David Hinchliff said it was ‘entirely’ responsible for Miss Houston’s death. Demanding a crackdown on the sale of the capsules, he said manufacturers knew they were bought for weight control. ‘The only motive for manufacturing a toxic substance as a slimming aid would be to profit from people who have the misfortune of having a condition such as Sarah’s,’ he said. ‘Anyone who professionally manufactures capsules to be taken as a drug has the intention of people using it as a drug. Sarah’s death is a consequence of that.’
THE DEADLY DANGERS OF DNP
DNP is sold as a weight loss aid, but has been described as ‘extremely dangerous to human health’ by doctors.
It is sold mostly over the internet under a number of different names but contains 2, 4-Dinitrophenol.
It is marketed mainly to bodybuilders as a weight loss aid as it is thought to dramatically boost metabolism.
The manufactured drug is yellow and odourless and was previously used as a herbicide and fungicide. It was launched as a slimming aid in the U.S. in the 1930s but then banned in 1938, due to the severe side-effects.
Depending on the amount consumed, signs of acute poisoning could include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headaches, rapid respiration and irregular heart-beat, possibly leading to coma and death.