According to data published by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) in December 2019, the median monthly benefit paid out to retired individuals is just $1,503. For disabled individuals, the average monthly benefit was just $1,258. The SSA estimates that approximately nine out of 10 persons aged 65 and up collect Social Security and anticipates paying more than $1 trillion to roughly 65 million people this year.  

Social Security just doesn't cut it for many recipients for the simple reason that benefits are spread so thin across a substantial population of eligible recipients. The good news is, by investing in tried-and-true large-cap stocks, you can supplement your Social Security income and strengthen your financial position during an economic downturn. Let's take a look at two of my favorite top pharmaceutical stocks that could help you take control of your financial story. 

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AbbVie (ABBV 0.11%) spun off from Abbott Laboratories in 2013. Shares have risen by more than 190% since the company entered the market. AbbVie has a consistent history of strong financial performance. In 2018, the company reported net revenues of almost $33 billion under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), nearly $20 billion of which were attributable to sales of blockbuster Humira. Last year, AbbVie's net revenue totaled $33.3 billion, marking 2% GAAP growth, while Humira amassed roughly $15 billion in U.S. sales. AbbVie's stable of hematologic drugs and therapeutics also saw a 39% boost in worldwide revenue last year. Venclexta, Imbruvica, and Skyrizi were other major revenue drivers heading into 2020.

In the first quarter of 2020, AbbVie's revenue went up by 10% to $8.6 billion. The company also saw a nearly 14% increase in U.S. sales of Humira to total roughly $3.7 billion. Targeted cancer therapy drug Imbruvica brought in $1.2 billion in worldwide revenue, a more than 20% year-over-year increase. And net revenue of rheumatoid arthritis medication Rinvoq came to $86 million in Q1. Rinvoq recently hit its co-primary and secondary endpoints in AbbVie's phase 3 clinical study evaluating the drug as a potential treatment for individuals with atopic dermatitis. When second-quarter earnings were released July 31, AbbVie beat analysts' estimates with revenue of $10.4 billion. 

AbbVie's dependance on Humira as a vital source of revenue growth has been a point of concern for investors. But the company is making decisive efforts at expansion. Its acquisition of Allergan was a big win that considerably diversified its portfolio. AbbVie also entered an oncology partnership with Danish company Genmab (GMAB -1.41%) last month to develop antibody-based products.

As one of the hallowed group of companies known as Dividend Aristocrats, AbbVie pays out a generous yield of 4.9%. While the stock plunged in March at the height of the pandemic, it has recovered and is trading just shy of its 52-week high. Given its string of successes, I think growth could continue.


British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -1.41%) may not have made big headlines like Pfizer (PFE -2.46%) or Moderna (MRNA -0.39%) for its work on potential coronavirus solutions. However, the company has several coronavirus collaborations under way that are well worth watching. GlaxoSmithKline entered a collaboration with Vir Biotechnology (VIR -3.25%) back in April to develop COVID-19 treatments using Vir's monoclonal antibody platform. A phase 2/3 human trial of an antibody treatment candidate on high-risk individuals with coronavirus who have not been hospitalized is expected to commence in the upcoming quarter.

And GlaxoSmithKline entered a separate collaboration with French pharma giant Sanofi (SNY -3.12%) in April to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be developed using GlaxoSmithKline's adjuvant technology and Sanofi's S-antigen from its recombinant DNA platform. (For a rundown of all the vaccines currently in development and how they work, see this article.) On July 29, the companies announced an agreement with the U.K. government to provide up to 60 million doses of their vaccine. GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi plan to initiate a phase 1/2 study of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate in September and a phase 3 trial before the year is out. The companies are aiming for the possible regulatory seal of approval in early 2021 and hope to manufacture up to a billion doses of the vaccine annually. GlaxoSmithKline has also initiated coronavirus vaccine collaborations with Clover Biopharmaceuticals and Medicago, both of which have candidates in phase 1 human trials.

GlaxoSmithKline hasn't quite made it back to its price at the start of 2020, but neither have many other stocks since the March crash. Despite the volatility of the stock market in the first quarter, the company still reported a 19% increase in revenue. In Q2, GlaxoSmithKline raked in nearly $10 billion, a slight 2% decline from last year. Sales in its respiratory division were up 17% to approximately $1.2 billion. GlaxoSmithKline's net cash flow of $3.6 billion also added a nice cushion to its overall balance sheet. The company reported several notable approvals in the second quarter, including Japan's approval of Duvroq to treat patients with anemia. GlaxoSmithKline currently has 35 drugs in its pipeline, as well as 15 vaccine candidates.

This is all good news for the stock's long-term growth potential, whether or not one of its potential COVID-19 treatments or vaccines makes it to market. Factor in GlaxoSmithKline's robust 6.2% dividend yield and its cheap share price (about $40), and this stock is a hard one to pass up.