Pharmaceuticals firms that seek the winning edge must increase their pace of drug development while cutting costs, says the Outlook 2000 report from the Boston-based Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. "Doing the right R&D to identify the most promising potential new drugs and doing it well, more than anything else, will determine company pipelines and market value in the coming months and years," says Tufts Center Director Kenneth Kaitin. Increasing productivity and efficiency of meetings with the FDA may help firms cut clinical study time, says the report -- as may lowering attrition rates for new chemical entities entering expensive Phase III development. Also, politics such as the debate over health-care costs and prescription benefit programs will force drug firms to refine their agenda. The FDA will forge closer ties with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, and more regulatory attention will be paid to drug information posted on Web sites, says the report.