Warning Issued For Industrial Chemical Used In Weight Loss
Taking the drug is like playing Russian roulette, say researchers.
Eloise Parry, a UK student who had been dealing with bulimia, died in 2015 after taking a banned fat burning drug researchers have described as like playing "Russian roulette".
The 21-year-old had bought the drugs from an online steroid dealer, believing it to be the "magic solution" for her body image.
"She was, of course, quite wrong," said judge Jeremy Donne this year, while sentencing the man who had sold her the drugs to seven years for manslaughter.
The drug, an industrial chemical known as dinitrophenol (DNP), has been linked to dozens of deaths internationally, and in the past year, has been linked to Australian deaths as well.
NSW Health issued a warning on Friday morning, urging the public not to risk their lives with this chemical.
"It's essentially a poison," Dr Marianne Gale of the NSW Ministry of Health told ten daily.
"It's an industrial product, so it's not legal for human consumption."
She was not able to comment on the nature of the deaths, as it is a police matter, but did confirm that the drugs were most popular among Australia's bodybuilding community.
The drug is marketed as a "shredder". DNP prevents energy being stored as fat, with the energy instead being released as heat. This is turn increases body temperature, which can damage cells of vital organs like kidneys and brains.
"There is a myth that if used in small amounts, users will be safe, but DNP is an extremely toxic substance," said Clinical Toxicologist and Intensive Care Physician at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Dr. Kylie McArdle.
"There is no antidote and even with our best medical care, people can and have died using products containing the chemical."
People can become unwell within hours of taking the drug, with users reporting feeling like they were "burning up from the inside out."
A study published in the Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy journal liked taken the drug as like playing Russian roulette.
"Owing to the wide variation in individual sensitivity to DNP, what works for most or many -- as detailed on the Internet forums and blogs -- could be toxic or even lethal to others," said researchers.
"For the first time, it is Russian roulette for every single user."