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A coroner has demanded Health Secretary Matt Hancock takes action over a £3.49 “suicide drug” after it was linked to six deaths.

The alert – the second such warning over the substance – was issued after an inquest into the death of Jason Thompson, who took it 12 days after buying it on the shopping site.

It is legal to buy and is normally used in food production but is touted as a suicide method in online forums.

Jason, 49, is one of six people to have died through its use since 2019.

Leslie Hamilton, assistant coroner for Co Durham and Darlington, contacted Mr Hancock and the manufacturer to warn “future deaths will occur unless action is taken”.

Shopfitter Jason, known to pals as Jay, collapsed at home in Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham, in February and died in hospital shortly afterwards.

His partner Cath Hugill, 50, and sister Karen Black, 53, say he had received mental health support but was facing a five-month wait for counselling.

He accessed pro-suicide forums before his death.

Cath, who runs a candle business, said: “Losing Jay has been horrible. I see now how hard it was for him because, dealing with something like this, your own mental health takes a hammering.”

The Sunday People previously told how senior coroner Kevin McGloughlin wrote to both Mr Hancock and the manufacturer after Leeds fish and chip shop worker Joe Nihill, 23, took his life in April using the substance – which we have chosen not to identify.

Days before he died, Joe got advice on a pro-suicide forum on where to buy it and how to use it.

His mother Catherine, 49, said: “How many more have to die before something is done? We need legislation.”

Supermarket worker Karen said her brother Jay’s death had “uncanny similarities” to Joe’s.

She said: “You can’t buy more than two boxes of paracetamol, yet you can buy something as lethal as that for less than a tenner.”

In his letter Mr Hamilton set a deadline of January 15 for details of action to be taken.

He said it was possible “to buy several hundred grams for a few pounds… without restriction.”

We found dozens of sellers offering it for as little as £3.49 online.

Other deaths linked to the product include Robert Coates, 17, who killed himself in woods near his home in Marlow, Bucks, in March.

And Southampton University student Wira Sinuraya, 21, died last February after ingesting 100 times the safe amount.

Samuel Dickenson, 33, died in March in Bolton, and Ashley Walker, 25, took a lethal dose in Kenilworth, Warks, in August 2019.

The manufacturer told the Sunday People it now only sells the substance mixed into other products after being alerted in April.

When the Sunday People approached the internet seller of the drug, they told us: “We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jason Thompson.

“This item is prohibited and we are taking appropriate action… to ensure it isn’t listed in the future.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and will support the police with any further investigation.”