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Beware the yellow slimming pill: fatal 2,4-dinitrophenol overdose


An industrial chemical, 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), has found use as a weight loss drug. It is extremely toxic in overdose and has a narrow therapeutic window with significant interindividual variability in metabolism. The rise in internet-based sales and distribution of this drug has seen an increased incidence of both accidental and intentional overdose presenting to emergency departments across the UK. No antidote currently exists and overdose is often fatal despite management based on current recommendations. We report a case of intentional overdose of DNP in a young man and discuss the current treatment guidelines. The case highlights the need for an increased awareness among frontline medical staff of the effects of DNP poisoning and questions the need for a more aggressive approach in the management of acute toxicity.

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