updated 12/28/2004 9:05:49 AM ET 2004-12-28T14:05:49

Federal prosecutors have charged three pharmacists and two doctors with selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drug samples that were supposed to have been given to patients for free.

Prosecutors in criminal cases filed Monday accused the doctors of selling pharmacists thousands of free pills given to them by pharmaceutical companies as part of promotional programs.

The pharmacists then punched the pills out of their sample-size packets and mingled them with other medications for resale to patients, the government claimed.

Information about the drugs’ expiration dates and lot numbers were lost in the process, making it impossible for patients to know when the medications expired, or identify pills with potential problems in the event of a product recall.

The defendants face fines and potential jail time if convicted.

One pharmacist, Mark Rubin, 51, of Bucks County, allegedly paid doctors and pharmaceutical company representatives $500,000 for the “free” samples, then resold them at a profit.

His attorney did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment Monday.

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