24-year-old woman dies after taking slimming pills

SINGAPORE - She had been warned by her doctor not to buy dubious weight-loss pills online. And on discovering sachets of yellow capsules in parcels that were delivered to her daughter, her mother repeatedly threw them away.

Despite all the efforts to stop her, Ms Grace Yu Jing Ni continued to take the pills, and paid for it with her life.

The 24-year-old suffered chest pains after swallowing the capsules - bought at the www.eurosteroids.org website for $335 through a Ukrainian seller - on Jan 12 this year.

Taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, she later died of dinitrophenol (DNP) poisoning. DNP causes rapid loss of weight but has adverse side-effects and is banned here.

On Friday, a coroner's inquiry into her death heard that she had been admitted to the same hospital in 2011 for drug toxicity after taking similar pills.

She also received psychiatric treatment for depression and was warned by a doctor of the dangers of taking slimming medications bought online.

In the past, Ms Yu's mother, 55, a manager in a transport company, had opened parcels addressed to her daughter and discovered sachets of yellow capsules without any labels.

She threw these away. It is believed Ms Yu - who had dropped out of the Singapore Institute of Management in May 2009 and was jobless - had placed the online orders at an Internet cafe as she did not have a computer or laptop at home.

A check with SingPost revealed that she had collected a parcel that arrived from Turkey on Jan 4.

Investigation officer Khairulizan Ishak told the court that Ms Yu, who was "a bit plump", was particular about her weight. She ate only healthy food and would shop for organic products.

At 10pm on Jan 11, her mother saw her in bed sweating profusely and breathing heavily. She also found several packets of yellow capsules.

Ms Yu said she had swallowed five pills and needed to rest as she was feeling tired.

She then suffered chest pains, and at 2.30am the next day, her mother drove her to the hospital.

She was still sweating heavily and died at 7am.

An autopsy determined that the cause of death was acute DNP poisoning.

In announcing his findings, State Coroner Eddy Tham noted that police do not suspect foul play.

The Health Sciences Authority told The Straits Times that people should not risk their health "for the sake of convenience, lower prices, or greater privacy", by buying drugs from places such as random websites, discussion forums and blogs.

The drug regulator noted that the proliferation of websites selling health products has made it easy for people to buy drugs from a variety of sources.

However, one in two medicines sold over the Internet is fake, according to the World Health Organisation.


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