The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has thrown its support behind a social media campaign which is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of buying diet pills over the internet.

The #DyingToDiet initiative being run by Free Radio has got people, many of whom have suffered ill-health after taking pills bought online, talking about their experiences on Twitter.

A survey last year by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Slimming World revealed that one-third of people trying to lose weight in the UK turned to the internet to buy potentially dangerous slimming pills.

Claire Thompson, the deputy chief scientist at the RPS, told Free Radio: “If you buy something online, unless it is from a regulated internet pharmacy, then you do not know what you’re getting. It could be anything in there, so it’s incredibly risky.

“These so-called diet pills can either do nothing at all or they can be very, very harmful indeed.”

The RPS said: “One particular substance unfit for human consumption but bought online for weight loss is DNP (2,4-Dinitrophenol). It has a variety of industrial uses, including as a photographic chemical, a fertiliser and is used in the production of dyes and explosives.

“The RPS science and research board is looking for routes to restrict the availability of DNP and raise awareness with the public about its dangers.”