An adult man was brought into the emergency department after deliberate ingestion of dinitrophenol: an agent that uncouples mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. The patient rapidly developed a hyper-metabolic state with fever, respiratory failure and died within a few hours after admission. Dinitrophenol is used in the manufacture of dyes, pesticides and explosives. Sub-acute poisoning is associated with weight-loss and the substance had been prescribed for this purpose during the 1930s in the United States before being banned due to serious side effects. Although remaining unlicensed as a drug, dinitrophenol is widely available through mail-order websites and online pharmacies, which promote it as an anti-obesity treatment. This case highlights the need for awareness of possibly increasing rates of accidental poisoning with a growing obesity prevalence and availability of this unlicensed drug through the internet. Additionally, we discuss the use of dantrolene in dinitrophenol poisoning and question whether current Toxbase/UK National Poison Information Service treatment guidelines regarding the indication and dosing of this drug, the only relatively specific treatment in dinitrophenol poisoning presently recommended, could be revised.
- weight loss
- anti-obesity agents
- clincial management
- paramedics, guidelines
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.