Co-founder and CEO, RxGuardian
For Nathan Langley, entrepreneurship has meant integrating his drive to save lives with his passion for innovation and sales, and the synthesis has helped him succeed. “Everybody is different, and their experiences are different, but I would find it much more difficult to have overcome some of the challenges that we’ve faced over the years if it wasn’t something I believed in,” he says.
The RxGuardian story begins with its predecessor, Gatekeeper Innovation, and an all-too-common situation that happened close to home. Over a decade ago, Langley’s friend’s younger brother began secretly taking his mother’s prescription opioid medication, developing a substance abuse disorder that took years of treatment to overcome. “It started in the home medicine cabinet. His mom was in a bad car accident, and she was prescribed opioids for this … but he was a curious teenager at the time.”
In 2012, Langley’s LLC began manufacturing what is now known as the Safer Lock, a tamper-evident, abuse-deterrent vial that allows patients to secure their prescription medications with a four-digit code, and in 2015 the LLC was incorporated into Gatekeeper Innovation. Last year, a restructuring led to a name change — RxGuardian — and 34-year-old Langley assumed the executive role. The company offers a range of medication safe storage products that includes the one-of-a-kind Rx Locking Cap, which fits onto vials from the pharmacy.
Lately, RxGuardian has broadened its scope to secondary packaging after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s PROTECT Initiative (on which Langley serves) found that products like seven-day pill organizers are a leading cause of accidental poisoning in young children. As a result, more than 100 organizations competed to develop safer secondary packaging, Langley says, and RxGuardian won with their product, which will soon launch.
While six percent of Americans over the age of 12 abuse prescription medications annually, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, Langley says many people don’t think it will happen in their home. That’s why he strives to make abuse deterrent devices a standard of care when it comes to doling out prescriptions. Serving on the National Pain Care Forum, the Abuse-Deterrent Formulation Coalition, and Community Impact North Carolina (an alcohol and drug harm prevention organization), Langley spends much of his time lobbying for safer medication storage across the U.S. “There’s a lot of settlements going on with the opioid manufacturers, and ensuring that those dollars are used to address the problem is really important to me,” he says.
RxGuardian’s distribution is already nationwide. Partners and customers include Walgreens, CVS, Kaiser Permanente, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Western Health Advantage. Yet, like Langley himself, the company is firmly grounded in Sacramento.
As a Sacramento State University grad who paid his way selling Cutco cutlery about town, starting a business in his home city was a no-brainer. “With a lot of our efforts being catered towards creating a standard of care, if need be we can walk over to the Capitol at any point in time and meet with someone who has that type of influence,” he says. “And if they’ve been impacted by this themselves and want to try to make a difference, it’s very easy for us to work with those types of people by being right here in the Capital City.”
Langley lives in Midtown and can often be found working at his favorite coffee shop, Old Soul at The Weatherstone. Last year he adopted a new roommate and “office dog” named Bruce, an American bully, from the Front Street Animal Shelter.
In a startup age saturated with software-based technology, Langley wants aspiring entrepreneurs to know that there will always be room for tangible, real-world innovation. “What we do, it’s not that sexy,” he says. “We have a very simple mechanical product, but there’s still a necessary need for these physical products, and there’s lots of things we still don’t know. … There’s a certain elegance and simplicity as well; and, physical products, we’re always going to need them. We have our roadmap to involve some tech into our products as well, but at the end of the day what secures it is still going to be a cap.”
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