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North Carolina Man Sentenced To 7 Years In Federal Prison For Selling Deadly Weight Loss Drug To Consumers

Department of JusticeOCI Badge
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 6, 2020

Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge Paul G. Byron has sentenced Barry Clint Wright (38, Monroe, NC) to the maximum statutory sentence of seven years in federal prison for introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce, introducing a misbranded drug into interstate commerce, and introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead.  Wright had pleaded guilty on November 1, 2019.

According to court documents, 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) is a chemical substance that, when ingested, causes rapid loss of weight, but is also associated with a high rate of adverse effects including cataracts, hyperthermia, tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmia, and death. In 1938, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared DNP to be extremely dangerous and not fit for human consumption. At that time, the FDA announced publicly that it would prosecute those who manufacture and distribute DNP for use as a drug.

According to court records, between December 2015 and May 2018, Wright sold DNP to consumers throughout the United States and in a number of foreign countries as a weight loss drug. Wright purchased bulk DNP and encapsulated it into ingestible pills. He also created several websites to market the pills. Wright did not label the pills as DNP, nor did he include any directions or warnings regarding the use of the drug when he mailed it to consumers. Three of these consumers died during or shortly after their DNP use. The official cause of death for two of these victims, 21-year-old V.G. (East London, United Kingdom) and 46-year-old J.P. (Marietta, GA), was DNP toxicity. The other victim, 26-year-old C.W. (Lake Mary, FL), died from cardiac arrhythmia, which can be caused by the use of DNP.  

This case was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chauncey A. Bratt.

Topic(s):
Consumer Protection
Component(s):
USAO - Florida, Middle