ONE of the country's leading emergency doctors has warned of hundreds of deaths from dangerous pills bought over the internet.
Dr Chris Luke was speaking after the death of a young man in May after he took slimming pills he bought online.
The fat-burning product he took contained a highly-toxic substance marketed as a "wonder slimming aid".
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) issued a fresh warning about the suspected consumption of a product that contained Dinitrophenol (DNP).
The authority is now liaising with gardai who are investigating the supply of DNP products and the events surrounding the man's death.
"These investigations are ongoing, and we strongly urge members of the public to never use the internet to source slimming products or any prescription medicines at any time - no amount of these products is safe to take," said Pat O'Mahony, Chief Executive of the HPRA.
Dr Luke - who is based in Cork --said that DNP has "horrific side effects" including blindness and extreme heatstroke.
"The difficulty is that it's completely unregulated and online drugs sales represent an area of huge concern in terms of public health, which is going to see hundreds if not thousands of deaths over the next five years, particularly in relation to so-called slimming aids.
"This just echoes the kind of problems they had in the 1920s and 30s with drugs like DNP," he told Newstalk.
To date, a small number of tablets containing DNP have been seized by the HPRA.
DNP, an industrial chemical popular with some bodybuilders trying to lose weight, has been linked to over 60 deaths worldwide, but this is the first reported case in Ireland.
Further information about the dangers of buying medicines online is available on its website at www.hpra.ie