BALTIMORE, AUG. 10 -- PharmaKinetics Laboratories Inc. is being investigated by the federal government as part of an ongoing probe of the generic drug industry, the company announced today.

The company said its attorney had received a letter from the federal prosecutor for Maryland saying PharmaKinetics and its chief scientific officer, Mark Perkal, were targets of an investigation in connection with generic drug companies that have been clients. "This comes as a surprise to us given the active and positive nature of Dr. Perkal's and the company's assistance in the various government investigations of the generic drug industry over the last year," said Steven Woodman, PharmaKinetics' chief executive officer and president.

"We believe that without our assistance and policies of test-sample retention . . . most, if not all of the alleged fraudulent acts of test-sample switching by some generic drug companies would have gone undetected," Woodman said. "Our integrity and the actions of our employees in dealing with the alleged misdeeds of certain clients has already been closely scrutinized by other government agencies over the last year resulting in no material criticism."

PharmaKinetics is a pharmaceutical development company providing services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms seeking new drug approvals in the United States and Europe.

The company said it was not told the specifics of the investigation and was not aware of any violations but would cooperate.

The criminal investigation of corruption in the generic drug industry and among its regulators began in the summer of 1988. It has resulted in the convictions of more than a dozen generic drug companies, generic drug officials and Food and Drug Administration officials.