The toxic diet pill DNP will be declared poison

Image caption,

Bethany Shipsey died after taking pills containing the drug in 2017

A highly toxic chemical compound sold illegally in diet pills will be reclassified as poison, a government minister has said.

Pills containing DNP, or 2,4-dinitrophenol, were responsible for the deaths of 32 young vulnerable adults, campaigner Doug Shipsey said.

His daughter Bethany, from Worcester, died in 2017 after taking tablets containing the chemical.

The deaths were due to a “collective failure of the UK government”, he said.

Legislation to regulate DNP, passed on Monday, will come into effect on October 1 this year, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said.

Image caption,

Doug Shipsey is due to meet the minister on Monday

In a letter to Mr Shipsey and his wife Carol, the security minister said he had received whole-of-government agreement for the proposals following a public consultation.

Once the regulations come into force, it would mean DNP can only be legally sold to a member of the public by a registered pharmacist, and then only to someone with a valid license issued by the Home Office, he said.

“These licenses can only be issued to persons who can demonstrate legal use of the substance. Any sale to a person without an EPP license will be illegal.”

DNP was sold as a diet pill in the US in the 1930s, but its sale for human consumption has since been made illegal.

Until 1996, it was classified as a poison.

What is a DNP?

It is highly toxic and not intended for human consumption.

Industrial chemical, sold illegally in diet pills as a fat burner.

Users experience a boost in metabolism, leading to weight loss, but taking even a few pills can be fatal.

Signs of acute poisoning include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headache, rapid breathing, and irregular heartbeat.

Consuming lower amounts over longer periods can cause cataracts and skin lesions and affect the heart, blood and nervous system.

Experts say that buying medicines online is risky as the medicines may be fake, expired or extremely harmful.

Mr Shipsey said he targeted the minister following the death of another young man who had taken the drug, marketed as a slimming aid.

Previously, following investigations into dozens of young people who died suddenly and unexpectedly from DNP toxicity, the government had “ignored numerous coroner’s reports” to prevent future deaths, he said.

“So finally after 32 deaths and almost six years of campaigning, the Home Office (HO) has finally taken the responsibility to control DNP under the Poisons Act 1972,” he added

Image caption,

Vaidotas Gerbutavichus died after taking toxic pills marketed as weight loss aids

A meeting with the minister and one of the leading campaigners, Andrius Gerbutavičius, Vaidotas’ father, is to be held on Monday.

A statement from the two families following the minister’s letter said: “Our loved ones [ones] innocently bought DNP on the internet, which is in the same explosive category as TNT and as deadly as cyanide, so will the Home Office ban online sales and introduce blocks on search engine algorithms? If so, when?”

The young people had died “because of the collective failures of the UK Government and particularly the HO to protect its citizens from this disgusting and fatal deadly substance”.

The average age of the victims was between 21 and 22, it continued, with most suffering from some type of mental illness, eating disorder or body image problem.

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