I Visited a Fertility Specialty Pharmacy, and Here Are My 16 Key Takeaways
September 24, 2020
by Abby Mercado
At Best Shot, our vision is to bridge the gap between the fertility clinic and the specialty pharmacy, with a distinct focus on the patient. We’ve been in business for nine months, and what a ride it’s been. In those nine months, we feel like we’ve garnered a solid grasp on what goes on at the clinic level, but a lot less of one when it comes to specialty pharmacies. So, when Adam Hait, the President of Schrafts 2.0, invited us out to Cedar Knolls, NJ for a tour, we gladly accepted. We’ve included our 16 key takeaways below:
- Schrafts 2.0 is located on the ground floor of an unassuming office building (a surprise!), about a 40-minute Uber from Manhattan, in the wooded New Jersey suburbs.
- Being in the suburbs, there are no high rises in sight, but there are four- to five-story office buildings scattered about here and there, and many of these office buildings house pharmaceutical companies. We Googled “why are there so many pharmaceutical companies in NJ” and learned that “80% percent of the pharma industry exists in the corridor from Connecticut down to Wilmington, DE. This was our favorite article on the topic, and it primarily thanks access to talent.
- Schrafts 2.0 is primarily a mail-order pharmacy, but Adam tells me that approximately one patient per day comes by to pick up her fertility meds in-person.
- Every employee of Schrafts 2.0 has been trained on why a woman might shout, then laugh, then cry on the same 10-minute call with their pharmacist through “empathy training”. When Adam started Schrafts 2.0, producing this video for his employees was one of the first tasks he took on.
- Adam has his laptop with him at all times, and if it seems like he’s a wee bit distracted, it’s because he checks in with patients via a web-based, HIPAA-compliant text messaging platform most of the day – and well into the evening.
- Vicki, the pharmacist-in-charge, runs a tight ship and seriously means business. Vicki has a Pharm.D, which requires four years of additional pharmacist training on top of a four-year college degree.
- I thought specialty pharmacies were the enemy when I was cycling, but my tour of Schrafts 2.0 convinced me that maybe they’re not so bad…
- Getting into the actual pharmacy (vs. the customer service center) requires fingerprint access. Patients, your meds are safe, for sure.
- Schrafts 2.0 kind of smells like a creek, and I’m not really sure why? Being a Coloradan through and through, I’m a bit bummed I didn’t bring my Chacos.
- I hadn’t seen a mortar and pestle since 8th grade science! Schrafts 2.0 is a compounding pharmacy, meaning they prepare custom formulations of various fertility meds. When compounding is taking place (I saw this!), pharmacists wear PPE that make them look like the Michelin Man.
- When compounding, fancy equipment is required. Fancy means this equipment costs over $1M – and Schrafts 2.0 has multiple. Compounding requires that specific temperatures and pressures be constantly kept up and monitored. Operating a specialty pharmacy in general, even if compounding isn’t taking place, does too!
- As a former fertility patient myself, I know how important taking inventory of your meds is when they arrive in that big brown box. Luckily, Schrafts 2.0 provides an oversized ‘guide’ to what’s in your big brown box. The guide, a giant piece of paper, will be found in your box when you open it and is decorated with stickers featuring the meds you’ll need to take during your cycle.
- Mail-order specialty pharmacies… they’re basically logistics companies. Schrafts 2.0 has different sized boxes for different fertility med protocols so that they can save on shipping and provide you, your insurance company or your employer with the best possible pricing. There’s no Schrafts 2.0 branding on their boxes – not even on the tape they use! – so that they’re HIPAA compliant. Even though 1 in 8 Americans are diagnosed with infertility (the disease state is common!), not everyone wants their neighbor Nancy Drew’ing around and learning that they’re taking fertility meds.
- When I walked into Schrafts 2.0’s call center (a big room with cubes) first thing in the morning, before the pharmacy’s customer service reps were all there, the average wait time till someone picked up a call was 13 seconds. By the time the day was over, it’s always Adam’s goal to get this number under 10 seconds. On this particular day (and most days, it sounds like), Adam and his team reached their goal.
- I was surprised to find a conference room in Schrafts 2.0’s offices! I was even more surprised to learn that three of the walls were actually giant whiteboards. Adam says that his team is constantly learning and teaching one another.
- One of my favorite things that happened during my tour of Schrafts 2.0’s operations was meeting Adam’s dad, Bill Hait. Bill’s father – Adam’s grandfather – acquired the original Schrafts in 1945. Newspaper clippings and other memorabilia are hung on the walls of the Schrafts 2.0 offices. The original Schrafts, which came to focus on fertility meds, was sold to Walgreens in 2005. After some time off, Adam opened Schrafts 2.0 in 2016 with the goal of further improving the fertility industry for its patients.