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HQ 956248

October 6, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 956248 EAB


TARIFF NO.: 3004.90.6010

Mr. Alvydas A. Jarmas
Technical Manager, Chemical Development, R&D SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals
709 Swedeland Road
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania 19406

RE: "Famvir" tablets; famciclovir; NYRL 891379 affirmed

Dear Mr. Jarmas:

This is in reply to your letter dated April 7, 1994, concerning our classification decision in Customs New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 891379 (November 17, 1993).


"Famvir" is a medicament put up in tablet form and containing the active ingredient Famciclovir, an anti-viral drug. In the manufacturing process of Famciclovir, guanine is the starting ingredient. It is your position that guanine is an alkaloid; therefore, "Famvir" tablets should be classified as a derivative of an alkaloid under subheading 3004.40.0070, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).

In NYRL 891379, Customs determined that guanine is not an alkaloid; therefore, "Famvir" tablets containing the active ingredient Famciclovir, not a derivative of an alkaloid, are classified under subheading 3004.90.6010, HTSUSA.


Whether "Famvir" tablets containing the active ingredient Famciclovir are classifiable as a derivative of an alkaloid.


Merchandise imported into the U.S. is classified under the HTSUSA. The tariff classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA, is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUSA and are to be considered statutory provisions of law for all purposes.

GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Heading 2939 in part describes vegetable alkaloids natural or reproduced by synthesis and their derivatives. An "alkaloid" is a loosely defined organic compound. While a basic nitrogenous organic compound of vegetable origin is generally considered an alkaloid, not all such compounds containing at least one heterocyclic ring with nitrogen hetero-atoms are only describable as alkaloids, or, more particularly, "vegetable alkaloids" for purposes of tariff classification under the HTSUSA. Guanine, the starting material for Famciclovir, the active ingredient in "Famvir" tablets, is a heterocyclic organic compound containing nitrogen hetero-atoms only. It is not commonly described in the scientific literature as an "alkaloid." Indeed, it is widespread in the animal and plant kingdoms as a constituent of nucleic acids, not itself isolated and discrete. Also included under the terms of the heading are alkaloid derivatives, the structures of which are to a large extent the same as that of the respective natural alkaloids from which they are obtained.

In order to classify "Famvir" tablets under the HTSUSA, we find that guanine is a constituent of a naturally occurring nucleic acid and is not an "alkaloid"; therefore, Famciclovir, a derivative of guanine, is not a derivative of an alkaloid for tariff classification purposes. We note that both Famciclovir and guanine are classifiable under subheading 2933.59, HTSUSA, a provision for heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atoms only, compounds containing a pyrimidine ring in the structure, other.

We find that "Famvir" tablets are not classifiable under any provision of the HTSUSA describing alkaloids or derivatives thereof.


"Famvir" tablets containing the active ingredient Famciclovir are classified under subheading 3004.90.6010, HTSUSA, a provision for medicaments (excluding goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses or in forms or packings for retail sale: other: other: other; anti-infective medicaments: other.

Merchandise classified under the foregoing provision in 1994 is dutiable at the column one general rate of 6.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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