If you can say one thing about management at Invitrogen (NASDAQ:IVGN), it's that they're industrious. On the day before Christmas, when most of us were thinking about holiday cheer, Invitrogen announced a deal to purchase competitor BioReliance (NASDAQ:BREL) for $500 million.

Invitrogen, which develops kits that facilitate biotech and life sciences research, is known for being busy. In the past two years alone, it has acquired nine separate companies. Just about every major lab across the world uses Invitrogen's technologies.

BioReliance, meanwhile, is a leading provider of specialized contract services to biotech and big pharma. Companies ranging from startups to Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) contract the company to help test, develop, and manufacture their biologic-based drugs.

Invitrogen's CEO Gregory Lucier, who oversaw 16 acquisitions as chief of General Electric's (NYSE:GE) Medical Systems Information Technologies unit, regards M&A in terms of buying a "platform for growth."

At Invitrogen, Lucier is looking to develop what will be essentially an operating system for drug development -- from discovery through development to production. This can be accomplished organically, but is much easier through M&A.

By extending Invitrogen's reach in drug testing, development, and manufacturing, BioReliance fits this strategy nicely. Moreover, the deal will be highly accretive. Free cash flow will double next year and projected earnings per share is expected to increase by $0.19.

M&A is a drug that can promote health -- but can be toxic if used in excess. So far, Invitrogen appears to be taking the right dosage.

Tom Taulli is the author of six books on investing, such as the StreetSmart Guide to Short Selling (McGraw-Hill). You can reach him at tom@taulli.com.