BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medical Policy Manual



66733-0948-XX Erbitux 100 MG/50ML SOLN (LILLY)


66733-0958-XX Erbitux 200 MG/100ML SOLN (LILLY)


Cetuximab is a recombinant human/mouse chimeric monoclonal antibody that binds specifically to the extracellular domain of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).  EGFR is a transmembrane glycoprotein expressed in multiple normal epithelial tissues and in many human cancers.  By binding to the EGFR, cetuximab competitively inhibits the binding of natural ligands, including epidermal growth factor (EGF).  This blocks the complex downstream signaling of the EGFR cascade and results in inhibition of cell growth, induction of apoptosis and decreased production of matrix metalloproteinase and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

In the EGFR cascade, RAS proteins, including KRAS, normally function as switches in the kinase pathway activated between cell surface EGFR and downstream signaling.  Mutations in the KRAS gene, occurring in 30% to 50% of colorectal cancers and common in other tumor types, activate the EGFR pathway and bypass the need for ligand binding.  This renders cetuximab and other anti-EGFR agents ineffective against those tumors expressing RAS mutations such as KRAS and, found more recently, those in another of the RAS proteins, NRAS.

Another common mutation is found in the BRAF gene, a serine/threonine kinase.  BRAF encodes a component downstream of the RAS proteins in the EGFR cascade. The BRAF gene is important for transducing mitogenic signals from the cell surface.  BRAF mutations have been found in thyroid, colorectal and lung cancers as well as in a majority of malignant melanomas, however specific targeting and treatment of BRAF-dependent tumors remains under investigation.







Colorectal Cancer

400 mg/m² loading dose; then 250 mg/m² every 7 days until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity;

OR500 mg/m² every 14 days until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity

All other indications

400mg/m² loading dose; then 250mg/m² every 7 days until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity


Coverage will be provided for six months and may be renewed

Refer to DOSAGE LIMITS below


BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s Medical Policy complies with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 56-7-2352 regarding coverage of off-label indications of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs when the off-label use is recognized in one of the statutorily recognized standard reference compendia or in the published peer-reviewed medical literature.


We develop Medical Policies to provide guidance to Members and Providers.  This Medical Policy relates only to the services or supplies described in it.  The existence of a Medical Policy is not an authorization, certification, explanation of benefits or a contract for the service (or supply) that is referenced in the Medical Policy.  For a determination of the benefits that a Member is entitled to receive under his or her health plan, the Member's health plan must be reviewed.  If there is a conflict between the Medical Policy and a health plan, the express terms of the health plan will govern.


For appropriate chemotherapy regimens, dosage information, contraindications, precautions, warnings, and monitoring information, please refer to one of the standard reference compendia (e.g., the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network®, Drugdex Evaluations of Micromedex Solutions at Truven Health, or The American Hospital Formulary Service Drug Information).


Allegra, C. J., Rumble, R. B., Hamilton, S. R., Mangu, P. B., Roach, N., Hantel, A., et al. (2016). Extended RAS gene mutation testing in metastatic colorectal carcinoma to predict response to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibody therapy: American Society of Clinical Oncology provisional clinical opinion update 2015. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 34 (2), 179-185.

Lexi-Comp Online. (2019). AHFS DI. Cetuximab. Retrieved July 1, 2019 from Lexi-Comp Online with AHFS.

MICROMEDEX Healthcare Series. Drugdex Drug Evaluations. (2019, May). Cetuximab. Retrieved July 1, 2019 from MICROMEDEX Healthcare Series.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (2019). NCCN Drugs & Biologics Compendium®. Cetuximab. Retrieved March 13, 2019 from National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

U. S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019, April). Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Erbitux® (Cetuximab) injection, for intravenous use. Retrieved July 1, 2019 from   




Policies included in the Medical Policy Manual are not intended to certify coverage availability. They are medical determinations about a particular technology, service, drug, etc. While a policy or technology may be medically necessary, it could be excluded in a member's benefit plan. Please check with the appropriate claims department to determine if the service in question is a covered service under a particular benefit plan. Use of the Medical Policy Manual is not intended to replace independent medical judgment for treatment of individuals. The content on this Web site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice in any way. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider if you have questions regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Maximum billable units per dose and over time by indication as a Medical Benefit; 1 billable unit = 10 mg



All indications

Weekly Dosing

Loading – 100 billable units x 1 dose

Maintenance – 60 billable units every 7 days

Dosing Every 2 Weeks 120 billable units every 14 days