Injectable Medications

Number: 0020


Policy requirements for a trial of an injectable drug therapy may be waived for persons who meet diagnostic criteria for needle phobia (see appendix for DSM 5 criteria), if there is documentation of preexisting excessive fear (outside of the particular request being considered) of injections and blood draws with documented attempts at management and psychological counseling, especially if there are associated symptoms (vasovagal syncope, panic attack).

Notes: Aetna covers injectable medications when an appropriate oral alternative drug does not exist.  This coverage includes those medications intended to be self-administered.  The medication must be medically necessary and appropriate to the member's needs or condition.

Experimental or investigational drugs or drugs that have not been proven safe and effective for a specific disease or approved for a mode of treatment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or the National Institutes of Health are not covered.  This provision does not exclude coverage of established “off label” uses of otherwise FDA-approved prescribed medications.

Drugs related to the treatment of non-covered services are not covered.  Infertility injectable medications are covered only when required by regulation or covered by a specific benefit design.  Steroids are not covered for the enhancement of performance, as this is not considered treatment of disease.

Note: Some state-to-state and plan type variations exist.

Certain classes of injectable medications are excluded from coverage under some benefit plans.  Please check benefit plan descriptions for details:

  1. Anabolic steroids when used for performance enhancement (See also: CPB 0528 - Androgens and Anabolic Steroids)
  2. Contraceptive injectable medications. Footnotes** (See also: CPB 0510 - Progestins)
  3. Immunizations for travel (See also:  CPB 0473 - Vaccines for Travel)
  4. Infertility injectable medications Footnotes* (See also: CPB 0327 - Infertility)

Footnotes*Exception: Infertility injectable medications;are covered only when required by regulation or covered by a specific benefit design.

Footnotes**Contraceptive injectable medications are covered under plans with the contraceptives rider or under plans with a contraceptives benefit.

Note: Medical necessity criteria for oral and certain self-administered injectable medications are addressed in Pharmacy Clinical Policy Bulletins (PCPBs).


Specific Phobia: DSM 5 Diagnostic Criteria

  • A marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation (e.g., flying, heights, animals, receiving an injection, seeing blood). Note: In children, the fear or anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or clinging.
  • The phobic object or situation almost always provokes immediate fear or anxiety.
  • The phobic object or situation is actively avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety.
  • The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation and to the sociocultural context.
  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for 6 months or more.
  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • The disturbance is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder, including fear, anxiety, and avoidance of situations associated with panic-like symptoms or other incapacitating symptoms (as in agoraphobia); objects or situations related to obsessions (as in obsessive-compulsive disorder); reminders of traumatic events (as in posttraumatic stress disorder); separation from home or attachment figures (as in separation anxiety disorder); or social situations (as in social anxiety disorder).

Source: APA, 2013.

Table: CPT Codes / HCPCS Codes / ICD-10 Codes
Code Code Description

Information in the [brackets] below has been added for clarification purposes.   Codes requiring a 7th character are represented by "+":

Other CPT codes related to the CPB:

90281 - 90399 Immune globulins [intramuscular, intravenous, subcutaneous]
90471, 90472, 90474 Immunization administration for vaccines/toxoids [intradermal, intramuscular, percutaneous, subcutaneous]
90581 - 90658, 90666 - 90676, 90691 - 90710, 90713 - 90749 Vaccines, toxoids [intradermal, intramuscular, intravesicular, percutaneous, subcutaneous]
96365-96379 Therapeutic, prophylactic, and diagnostic injections and infusions

Other HCPCS codes related to the CPB:

A4737, A9543, A9563, A9564, A9600 - A9605, A9699, C8957 - C9235, G0008 - G0010, G0260, G0332, G3001, J0120 - J0270, J0278 - J2543, J2550 - J3520, J3570 - J3590, J7187 - J7199, J7319, J9000 - J9999, Q0081 - Q0085, Q0515, Q2009 - Q2017, Q3027, Q4079, Q4081 - Q4086, S0017 -S0081, S0091 - S0093, S0122 - S0132, S0145 - S0156, S0162 - S0167, S0171, S5550 - S5553 Injectable medications and administration [intramuscular, intrathecal, intravenous, subcutaneous]

ICD-10 codes covered if selection criteria are met:

F40.231 Fear of injections and transfusions
F40.298 Other specified phobia [needle phobia]

The above policy is based on the following references:

  1. AHFS Drug Information. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; updated periodically.
  2. American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Washington, DC: APA; 2013.
  3. Clinical Pharmacology. Tampa, FL: Gold Standard/Elsevier; updated periodically.
  4. DRUGDEX System [Internet database]. Ann Arbor, MI: Truven Health Analytics Micromedex; updated periodically.
  5. Lexi-Drugs. Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands: Wolters Kluwer; updated periodically.
  6. NCCN Drug and Biologics Compendium. Fort Washington, PA: National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN); updated periodically.
  7. Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR). Montvale, NJ: Thomson PDR; updated periodically.