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HQ 956881

April 10, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:M 956881 LTO


TARIFF NO.: 9018.39.00

Ms. Patricia M. Hanson
Katten, Muchin & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street
Suite 1600
Chicago, Illinois 60661-3693

RE: VMP400 Needle*less Cannula; HQs 085088, 086015, 089415 952884; NY 864352; chapter 90, note 2(a); "cannula"; "catheter"; Nissho-Iwai American Corp. v. U.S.; Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. U.S.; C.J. Tower & Sons v. U.S.; ejusdem generis

Dear Ms. Hanson:

This is in response to your letter of August 11, 1994, on behalf of Baxter Healthcare Corporation, requesting the classification of the VMP400 Needle*less Cannula under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). In preparing this ruling, we have also considered your supplemental submission of December 7, 1994, as well as, the samples submitted with your original request.


The article in question is the "Needle*less Cannula," which is used with the Venous/Arterial Blood Management Protection (VAMP) closed blood sampling system. The Needle*less Cannula, which is made of polycarbonate plastic, consists of a small hollow tube enclosed in a slightly larger shield to protect it from contamination. The blunt instrument can be attached to both syringes with luer lock tips and syringes with luer slip tips.

The Needle*less Cannula is used to penetrate a sampling site to draw a blood sample directly from the site up into an attachable syringe. It is used in lieu of a needle to penetrate the sampling site, which is equipped with a specially designed rubber diaphragm. The instrument is designed to prevent needle - 2 -
sticks and blood splatter while drawing blood samples.


Whether the Needle*less Cannula is classifiable as a syringe accessory under subheading 9018.31.00, HTSUS, or as a cannula under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUS.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states in pertinent part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ."

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Co-operation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The merchandise at issue is clearly classifiable under heading 9018, HTSUS, which provides for instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, and parts and accessories thereof. However, the following subheadings must be considered:

Syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like; parts and accessories thereof:

9018.31.00 Syringes, with or without needles; parts and accessories thereof

9018.32.00 Tubular metal needles and needles for sutures and parts and accessories thereof

9018.39.00 Other

Note 2(a) to chapter 90, HTSUS, states, with regard to the classification of parts and accessories in chapter 90, as follows:

Parts and accessories which are goods included in any of the headings of this chapter or of chapter 84, 85 or 91 (other than heading 8485, 8548 or 9033) are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings.

Thus, if the Needle*less Cannula is classifiable as a "medical instrument or appliance" under heading 9018, HTSUS, - 3 -

(specifically, as a cannula, or something "like" a cannula, under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUS), then it cannot be classified as a syringe accessory under subheading 9018.31.00, HTSUS.

The term "cannula" is not defined in the HTSUS or the Explanatory Notes. When terms are not so defined, they are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meaning. Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982).

Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary defines "cannula" as a "tube for insertion into a duct or cavity; during insertion its lumen (cavity or channel within a tube) is usually occupied by a trocar (a sharp pointed instrument used to puncture the wall of a body cavity)." Dorland's, pg. 262, 956, 1760 (1988). See HQ 086015, dated January 10, 1990; HQ 085088, dated March 12, 1990; HQ 952884, dated February 23, 1993.

The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, pg. 230 (1989), defines "cannula" as follows:

A plastic or metal tube with a smooth, unsharpened tip for inserting into a blood vessel, lymphatic vessel, or body cavity to introduce or withdraw fluids. The physician first punctures the site with a long, thin needle, slides the cannula over it, and then withdraws the needle. Alternatively, he or she may insert a trocar (sharp-pointed rod) inside the cannula and remove it once the vessel has been entered. Cannulas are frequently used for blood transfusions and intravenous infusions and for draining pleural effusions. In certain circumstances, such as when blood is required for testing over a period of time, the cannula may be left in place for several days [emphasis in original].

Finally, Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines "cannula" as "a small tube for insertion into a body cavity or into a duct or vessel." Webster's, pg. 202 (1990).

While we agree that a cannula can be used without the presence of a trocar, the above definitions contemplate the insertion of the instrument into a duct or cavity of the body. A "cannula" is similar to a "catheter," which is a "tubular medical device for insertion into canals, vessels, passageways, or body cavities usu. to permit injection or withdrawal of fluids or to keep a passage open." Webster's, pg. 216.

The article in question, although referred to as the "Needle*less Cannula," is not inserted into a duct or cavity of - 4 -
the body. Rather, the article is used in lieu of a needle to penetrate sampling or injection sites equipped with a specially designed rubber diaphragm. See NY 864352, dated July 16, 1991 (wherein the injection sites and a vial adapter which included the rubber diaphragm were held to be classifiable under subheading 9018.90.80, HTSUS, which provides for other parts and accessories for medical instruments and appliances). Thus, the instrument in question is not a "cannula" for tariff purposes, and cannot be classified as such under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUS.

However, within heading 9018, HTSUS, there are several subheadings at the five-digit level, including subheading 9018.3, HTSUS, which provides for "[s]yringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like [emphasis added]." It is our opinion that the Needle*less Cannula is in the "same class or kind " as the articles described under subheading 9018.3, HTSUS.

The U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) has stated that the canon of construction, ejusdem generis, which means literally, of the same class or kind, teaches that "where particular words of description are followed by general terms, the latter will be regarded as referring to things of a like class with those particularly described." Nissho-Iwai American Corp. v. United States, 641 F.Supp. 808, 10 CIT 154, 156 (1986). See HQ 089415, dated November 7, 1991. The CIT further stated that "[a]s applicable to customs classification cases, ejusdem generis requires that the imported merchandise possess the essential characteristics or purposes that unite the articles enumerated eo nomine in order to be classified under the general terms." Id. at 157.

The Needle*less Cannula is used to penetrate a sampling site to draw a blood sample directly from the site up into a syringe. The Needle*less Cannula is a tube or channel used for the transport of blood. Because it is not inserted into a duct or cavity of the body, the Needle*less Cannula is not a "cannula" for tariff purposes. The Needle*less Cannula is, however, an instrument that functions in a manner similar to a cannula.

Moreover, while the Needle*less Cannula, unlike a needle or catheter, does not enter the body, subheading 9018.3, HTSUS, also includes "syringes," which, without the presence of a needle, do not enter the body. Accordingly, the Needle*less Cannula meets the terms of subheading 9018.3, HTSUS, and it is classifiable, as a "medical instrument or appliance" under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUS. The Needle*less Cannula cannot, therefore, be classified as a syringe accessory under subheading 9018.31.00, HTSUS. See Chapter 90, note 2(a).


The Needle*less Cannula is classifiable under subheading 9018.39.00, HTSUS, which provides for "[i]nstruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences; parts and accessories thereof . . . [s]yringes, needles, catheters, cannulae and the like . . . [o]ther." The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 3.4% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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