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Texas Woman Sentenced to 6 Months in Federal Prison for Selling Deadly Weight Loss Drug to Consumers

BAY CITY – A Texas woman was sentenced today to six months in federal prison for introducing a misbranded drug into interstate commerce, announced Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin.

Mohsin was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Lynda Burdelik, Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sentenced was Judith Holloway 34, of Watauga, Texas.  Holloway pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Patricia Morris on June 2, 2021.

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 the indictment, between October 2018 and May 2020, Holloway sold DNP to consumers throughout the United States and in a number of foreign countries and misbranded the substance as a yellow pigment powder.  Holloway purchased bulk DNP and utilized eBay and other websites to market and sell the drug over the internet. 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. The defendant also utilized eBay and other means to post DNP for sale to consumers as a pigment powder.  The defendant listed DNP on eBay and falsely labeled the DNP as “Yellow Pigment Powder DNP.”  eBay removed her listings for violating the company’s policy prohibiting the sale of hazardous items, medicines and drugs that require a prescription or are labeled Rx/Rx only on the packing as required by the FDA.  The defendant was undeterred by the removal and relisted the DNP on eBay on three separate occasions utilizing a different email address and false label.

Acting United States Attorney Mohsin stated, “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. We urge everyone to refrain from ingesting DNP for any reason.”

“Ignoring FDA requirements and selling dangerous unapproved drugs online can cause serious harm to those who use the drugs,” said Special Agent in Charge Lynda M. Burdelik, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Chicago Field Office.  “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who jeopardize consumers’ health.”

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Regina R. McCullough. The case was investigated by special agents of the Food and Drug Administration.