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HQ 089874

September 19, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 089874 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 9018.90.80; 9018.39.00

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
Suite 625
7911 Forsythe Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63105

RE: Blood Lancets; Protest No. 4503-91-100005

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for further Review of Protest No. 4503-91-100005, dated March 26, 1991. It concerns your action involving the classification of blood lancets imported from Japan, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The blood lancets were entered under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[s]yringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like; parts and accessories thereof: [o]ther." However, the lancets were liquidated under subheading 9018.90.80, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[o]ther instruments and appliances and parts and accessories thereof: [o]ther: [o]ther."

The subject articles are sold under the tradename SURELITE Lancets and SURELITE XL Lancets. The disposable lancet itself is embedded in a plastic handle and a flat cap is provided for safe disposal. While the shape of the lancet may look very similar to a common needle, it is also very different. While the shaft of the lancet is round, the point is not. Three facets have been cut on the point, thus creating secondary edges in addition to the two standard side edges. The lancet is designed to make an incision that is small in area and shallow in depth but at the same time to cut as many blood vessels as possible to draw a sufficient amount of blood for testing.

The lancets are almost exclusively used by diabetic patients for puncturing the skin to draw blood for blood-sugar analysis.


What is the proper classification of blood lancets under the HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Counsel for the importer argues that the lancets are classifiable under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUSA, which provides for ". . . needles . . . and the like" (emphasis supplied). It is claimed that the lancets are needles that "are not only specifically provided for . . . but they are also provided for under the extension to the enumerated articles, as 'like' articles." Counsel cites "Webster's Third New International Dictionary", Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Mass., 1986, which defines needles as:

2(c)(1). A pointed slender instrument used for sewing or puncturing tissues: SURGICAL NEEDLE.

Counsel is correct in arguing that a surgical needle and a blood lancet are similar. However, by design, they are very different. The lancet is a specialized piece of equipment used for a specialized purpose. The point of a lancet, as described in the facts, is shaped differently than that of a needle.

Webster's also defines a lancet as:

2. A sharp-pointed and commonly (emphasis supplied) two- edged surgical instrument of various forms used to make small incisions (as in a vein or a boil).

Counsel claims that, due to this definition, the subject articles cannot be lancets because they are not two-edged. However, the term "commonly" denotes the fact that the definition is not limited to two-edge construction. The definition is stating that lancets are normally designed with two-edged points. This does not mean that other lancets with different constructions, such as the subject state of the art lancets, are precluded from this definition.

Even though counsel is incorrect in stating that lancets are needles, he is correct in stating that lancets are sufficiently "like" needles for tariff classification purposes. In a telephone conversation with Dr. Joyce L. Hayman, of the Diabetes

Treatment Center at Georgetown University Hospital, she stated that it is accepted in the medical profession that lancets are regarded as "like" needles. According to Dr. Hayman, needles and lancets do have their differences, but they are also very similar, in that they are both pointed, they cut through the skin, and they are both measured in gauges. She added that both terms (needles, lancets) are used interchangeably in the medical profession.

Based on the information, we are satisfied that, although lancets are tools unto themselves and separate from needles, they are very similar to needles and are "like" needles for classification purposes.


The blood lancets are classifiable under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[s]yringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like; parts and accessories thereof: [o]ther." The protest should be granted. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and mailed to counsel for the protestant as part of the notice on the protest.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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