Over the past three decades, the average life expectancy in the U.S. has risen from 74.9 years in 1990 to 78.8 years in 2020. One of the biggest factors in this significant uptick in lifespan is undoubtedly the advances in medical treatments from pharma stocks. 

Going forward, a growing global population should allow big pharma to keep investing in research and development to drive innovation while also growing revenue and profitability. Here are three big biotech stocks that appear to be solid buys right now.

A doctor and patient talk with each other at an appointment.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. GlaxoSmithKline

The first healthcare stock to consider today is U.K.-based behemoth GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK). Helped by its heft -- currently $114 billion in market cap -- the company is able to continually seek out promising, new treatments. Its latest success is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of its cabotegravir injection for HIV prevention, which could add up to $1.5 billion in peak annual sales by the end of the decade. 

The company has also seen impressive growth in its respiratory therapy area (led by Trelegy and Nucala), which is expected to increase revenue 5% to $48.3 billion this year. While that may seem modest, it is a solid performance for a company of Glaxo's size. Better yet, 2022 looks like the beginning of what could be many solid years of growth.

GlaxoSmithKline has dozens of projects in late-stage clinical trials for such serious conditions as rheumatoid arthritis and anemia which could receive regulatory approval in the next few years.  Analysts are forecasting that GlaxoSmithKline will deliver 4% annual earnings per share (EPS) growth in the next five years thanks to these efforts. Beyond that, the company has dozens more projects in early-stage clinical trials to potentially offset any looming patent expirations in the future. 

At its current $45 share price, Glaxo also offers income investors a market-smashing 4.9% dividend yield at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 14. This seems like a sensible valuation given the company's pipeline and growth prospects.

2. Sanofi

The next large biotech stock that investors should look at is France-based Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) with a $129 billion market cap. Thanks to its booming vaccine segment and fast-growing asthma and eczema drug Dupixent (co-owned with Regeneron), Sanofi should do very well in the near term. Analysts anticipate average annual EPS growth of 13% for 2021 and 2022, which is high for a large-cap pharma stock like Sanofi. 

Sanofi's longer-term future looks just as bright with analysts predicting 10% annual EPS growth over the next five years. That's because out of the 82 projects in the company's pipeline, 48 are in phase 1 or 2 clinical trials. This should translate into at least some regulatory approvals to drive sales and earnings higher in the medium and long term.

At the stock's current $52 price, income investors can snatch up Sanofi's market-topping 3.8% dividend yield at a forward P/E ratio of just 12. Sanofi's mix of yield and growth at a sane valuation is a bargain for investors.

3. Novartis

The third biotech stock to contemplate purchasing right now is the even larger-sized Novartis (NYSE:NVS). At $201 billion in market cap, the Swiss company finds itself buoyed by strong growth from its mega-blockbuster drugs Cosentyx (immunology) and Entresto (heart failure). Analysts believe the company's sales will compound at over 5% annually in 2021 and 2022. That growth to the top line is projected to produce 10% and 5% EPS growth in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Simply put, the immediate future looks great for Novartis. Fortunately, the company has also heavily invested in putting together a deep drug pipeline for the next five to 10 years. Novartis has more than 150 projects in development in fast-growing areas like oncology and immunology. With that in mind, it's not hard to see why analysts are anticipating the company will deliver 7% annual earnings growth over the next five years. 

Despite Novartis' robust pipeline and attractive growth profile, the stock appears to be reasonably priced. At the current $90 share price, Novartis offers yield-starved investors an enticing 3.6% payout. This market-beating yield can be locked up at a forward P/E ratio of 13.5, making the stock appealing at this time. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.