LIFESTYLE

Eloise Aimee Parry, 21, Dies From Taking 'Diet Pills': What Is Dinitrophenol (DNP)?

21/04/2015 10:44 BST | Updated 21/04/2015 10:59 BST

Eloise Aimee Parry, a 21-year-old student, has died after taking "diet pills" she purchased on the internet.

On 12 April, Parry passed away in hospital after accidentally taking a lethal dose of dinitrophenol (DNP), a "very dangerous" chemical traditionally used in a range of industrial processes.

The student from Shrewsbury began to feel unwell around lunchtime and reportedly felt like she was "burning up from the inside". That afternoon, she died.

pill hand

Studies show that DNP has been known to cause side effects such as difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, fever, dizziness, vomiting and, in some cases, death.

But despite there being evidence of more and more people having extreme adverse reactions to the supplement, others are still buying it.

According to figures published last year, DNP has increased in popularity despite several fatalities from the fat-burning pill.

Speaking out about the drug, Professor Simon Thomas, director of the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS), which is commissioned by Public Health England, said: "It is important that people understand that any dose of this drug poses a potential risk to the user.

"We strongly advise people not to take DNP as a weight loss aid."

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DNP was first discovered as a potential dietary supplement in 1933, when an American researcher found that it could dramatically speed up metabolism, leading to rapid weight loss.

For a short period, it was marketed as a weight loss drug but was soon withdrawn from the market after it was found to be highly toxic.

“Dinitrophenol can be very dangerous when used for weight loss," Dr Nitin Shori, Medical Director of the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service and a working NHS GP tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"It can accelerate the metabolism to such a level that it has a serious impact on your body.

“There are many weight loss supplements available over the internet. Some have been tested for safety, but many haven't, so it’s important to check what you are buying is safe and is from a reputable source. It’s best to consult with a doctor or seek help from your pharmacy.”

According to the NHS, in 1938 the American Food and Drug Agency issued a statement saying DNP was “extremely dangerous and not fit for human consumption”.

But regardless of the dangers, the supplement has somehow made a comeback and can be purchased online - despite it being illegal to sell the drug.

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Unfortunately, because of lack of restrictions on the internet it is incredibly easy to sell (and purchase) DNP - particularly from foreign countries.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said in a statement last year, that it is actively working with police to stamp out the illegal sale of DNP to consumers, however it's proving to be increasingly difficult.

To prevent future fatalities, FSA director Rod Ainsworth said that personal responsibility must play a big part.

"It’s really important that people understand quite how dangerous DNP is," he said.

"We have been working hard to raise awareness of the dangers of DNP and to encourage people to let us know if they are sold products containing this chemical.

"If people are offered DNP they should not take it and should instead contact the FSA or their local authority."