Diet pills warning after Southampton student dies of overdose

Anna Phillips was just 20 when she overdosed on illegal slimming pills

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A coroner has called for action on the sale of the diet drug dinitrophenol (DNP) after 20 year old former Southampton medical student Anna Phillips died of an overdose.

Anna was forced to abandon her studies in 2014 after being diagnosed with mental health problems. On June 1, 2015, she was found semi-conscious in a field and rushed to hospital before dying of a heart attack within hours. Anna had been secretly ordering DNP pills online – where it is available for as little as 70p each.

Anna suffered with an eating disorder as a teenager, but had since recovered. It is not believed she bought the pills with the intention of losing weight. The inquest heard that Anna had attempted to take her life several times, and was once discharged from a mental health just 72 hours after a suicide attempt.

Assistant Coroner Andrew Cox said: ‘I will draw to the attention of Government the ease with which these drugs were bought on the internet’, at the inquest into her death, after it was ruled a suicide.

It is illegal to sell DNP for human consumption, but sellers often bypass this by advertising it as a pesticide or dye – which are both legal uses for the substance.

Anna’s mother, Dr Penelope Philips, is now saying more needs to be done to stop young people gaining access to DNP online. She said, ‘There are youngsters out there who are buying them all to readily over the internet. It’s an escalating problem and while I know police are attempting to close websites down, they keep popping up all over the place.’

‘The safety margin between an accidental overdose and a fatal overdose in some substances, especially DNP, is very small. It can literally be a one pill difference and I think that youngsters just aren’t aware of the danger.’

For confidential help and support, contact the Samaritans on 116 123.