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If you need an auto-injector, then your doctor will prescribe one to you. Auto-injectors are a prescription-only medicine, also known as a P.O.M. This means that a doctor will prescribe them once he knows you need it. You are not going to be in a situation where you need to buy an auto-injector, as the person who may become the patient should be carrying their prescription with them.

Each prescription is unique to that patient, due to a number of factors. Two units may look the same but contain different doses. Therefore, you must make sure that the auto-injector you are using on the patient is in fact theirs. It's very important that we ensure that the correct dose and unit has been given to that person.

For example, if you had someone who you suspect is having an anaphylactic reaction but has never had one before, this would mean that they haven’t been prescribed a medicine. What you must NOT do is use another person’s auto-injector. Not only could that not be the unit they would need or the wrong dose, but you are also actually putting someone else in danger, as you’ve left the person who is known to suffer from anaphylaxis at risk, because they now don’t have their auto-injector, should they need it. In cases like these you must call the Emergency services immediately and they will guide you on what to do.

The doctor is involved in deciding which drug you'll actually be given. What he's going to look at is the actual problem you have, what you are allergic to, any previous problems, the effectiveness of previous drugs, and also your lifestyle. So you are going to need to keep going back to the doctor to make sure that you have the correct treatment for your condition. If you need any advice on this, contact your doctor’s surgery, maybe the practice nurse can help you as well.

The pharmacist is the person who will actually hand over the drug to you. They can give you advice on the units, they can tell you about storage. They can also dispose of medicines if you have expired drugs you want to get rid of. So there's lots of help out there for you. Just ask. Talk to your doctors, talk to your pharmacists, and anybody else you think may be able to give you useful advice.