The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a leading trade association for the dietary supplement industry, announced the addition of a new member to its team of scientists in September 2008.1 Douglas (Duffy) MacKay, ND, now serves as a new vicepresident of regulatory and scientific affairs for CRN.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Dr. MacKay to our staff,” said CRN President and CEO Steve Mister, according to a CRN press release.1 “As a licensed naturopathic doctor, he adds an impressive combination of theoretical and practical expertise to our scientific team.”
Prior to joining CRN, Dr. MacKay served for 4 years as the vice president of clinical research at Nordic Naturals, a respected producer of fish oil-based dietary supplements. In that position, he was responsible for product formulation, coordinating clinical trial research, serving as a technical/medical advisor, and managing the company’s Adverse Event Reporting (AER) system, among other duties. Other previous work experiences include serving as senior technical advisor for Thorne Research (a manufacturer of dietary supplements for health professionals) and senior editor of the journal Alternative Medicine Review. He also co-owned and practiced naturopathic medicine at the Makai Naturopathic Center in New Hampshire for 7 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in marine sciences from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a degree in naturopathic medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
“My career path thus far has included facilitating research, formulating products, writing [Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act] compliant marketing material, and working with manufacturers,” said Dr. MacKay (e-mail, September 29, 2008). “All of this was done at the same time I was working directly with patients and getting a first-hand perspective on how they are impacted by the dietary supplement industry. I have observed the whole spectrum of the industry on consumers. I have seen supplements dramatically improve the health and lives of hundreds, but also have observed consumers fall prey to false and misleading advertising claims.”
He continued: “As a naturopathic doctor, I felt a duty to take my next career step and to attempt to influence the future of health as we know it. My role at CRN will allow me to indirectly support my many colleagues that practice integrative medicine, as well as the millions of Americans that take dietary supplements. In addition, my first hand experience within supplement companies and in patient care will bring a new perspective and energy to CRN.”
Dr. MacKay is to serve as CRN’s resident expert on botanicals. He will assist other key CRN staff members in interpreting and contributing to the science surrounding dietary supplements and nutrition, as well as advising, educating, and representing CRN’s members on regulatory matters that impact the industry.
“I have many goals to accomplish while at CRN,” said Dr. MacKay. “I have a particular interest in the area of botanical medicine. Herbs are complex entities and our scientific understanding of how they influence human health is in its infancy stage. My goal is to continue to promote and shape guidelines that facilitate the safety and efficacy of botanical products. At the same time, I would like to be a voice of reason that helps to preserve the many time-honored and widely varied approaches to using herbal products. There is danger in over-emphasizing randomized placebo-controlled trials as the only means to establishing efficacy. Herbs are far too complex to solely rely on the reductionist models and thinking of conventional medicine to validate efficacy.”
He added that he would also like to help researchers establish more validated risk biomarkers. Dr. MacKay explained that the availability of additional risk biomarkers would eliminate the need to continue some research studies until a disease endpoint has been reached. For instance, if a study were to show that a product increases bone density, the researcher could profess that the product decreases the risk for osteoporosis. It would eliminate the need to continue the clinical trial until osteoporosis sets in. According to Dr. MacKay, this would significantly reduce research costs and could help to quickly expand understanding of natural products on human health.
“Medicine is clearly moving toward an integrated model that includes dietary supplements as a key tool to staying healthy,” said Dr. MacKay. “Change is happening—the research and science supporting natural products is prolific, [complementary and alternative medicine] is being taught at most conventional medical schools, and the public is demanding more options. As a licensed naturopathic doctor with my unique and various experiences, I felt a duty to get involved on a deeper level. I was thrilled that CRN acknowledged my training and experience by extending me a job offer.”
1. CRN welcomes new scientist to its team [press release]. Washington DC: Council for Responsible Nutrition; September 9, 2008.