A woman was sentenced to six months in prison for misbranding and selling a deadly drug that can be used for rapid weight-loss, federal prosecutors in Michigan said.
According to an indictment, between October 2018 and May 2020, Judith Holloway, 34, of Watauga, Texas, was accused of buying in bulk 2,4-Dinitrophenol, also known as DNP.
When ingested, the drug causes weight loss, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned DNP in 1938 and declared the drug extremely dangerous and not fit for human consumption after it was associated to multiple adverse side effects, such as cataracts, tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmia, and death.
According to an indictment, Halloway misbranded DNP as “yellow pigment powder” when she packaged and sold it on eBay and other websites to customers both in the United States and abroad.
“Holloway did not label the package as DNP, nor did she include any directions or warnings regarding the use of the drug when she mailed it to consumers,” prosecutors said.
On multiple occasions, prosecutors noted, eBay removed Holloway’s listings for the purported pigment powder because it violated the company’s policy against selling medicines, drugs, or other hazardous items, but “she was undeterred by the removal and relisted the DNP on eBay on three separate occasions utilizing a different email address and false label.”
Holloway pleaded guilty to the charges against her in June.
“This sentence should send a clear message to those who would profit from the sale of dangerous unapproved drugs that we will utilize every tool at our disposal to vigorously prosecute you in order to protect the health and safety of the general public,” Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin said, noting that officials “urge everyone to refrain from ingesting DNP for any reason.”
Special Agent in Charge Lynda M. Burdelik, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Chicago Field Office, added, “Ignoring FDA requirements and selling dangerous unapproved drugs online can cause serious harm to those who use the drugs,” and authorities “will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who jeopardize consumers’ health.”