Two healthcare heavyweights have recently acquired two slightly smaller companies. Abbott Laboratories (ABT  ) has bought Alere (ALR  ), a diagnostic company, for $5.8 billion; Stryker Corp. (SYK  ) has bought privately-held Sage Products LLC, which produces disposable products for hospitals, from Madison Dearborn for $2.775 billion. Abbott Laboratories, based in Illinois, is an international health care company, operating in more than 150 countries with 73,000 employees. Its diagnostic tests, pharmaceuticals, nutrition products, and medical devices are used around the world. Alere, as a smaller business, has a much more specialized function; the company manufactures "point of care" medical tests. The difference between these tests and those that Abbott Laboratories already uses is that "point of care" diagnostics provide results in minutes, as opposed to hours or days. As Miles D. White, the chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories stated, "We want to offer our customers the best and broadest diagnostics solutions. Alere helps us do that." Alere-which provides diagnostics for tuberculosis, malaria, dengue fever, the flu, strep, and HIV-carried out more than 1.4 billion tests last year. Despite some analysts' concern that Alere may slow Abbot's overall growth, the latter is expected to have an annual diagnostics revenue of $7 billion after the transaction is completed.

Stryker Corp., a Fortune 500 medical technologies firm based in Michigan, manufacturers joint replacement and trauma surgery implants, surgical navigation systems and equipment, endoscopic and communication systems, and a variety of other specialized tools and devices for a number of medical specialties. Sage Products LLC, like Alere, is much more specialized; the company manufactures disposable personal care and health products for hospital use. One of the many, though possibly one of the most pressing, reasons why Stryker Corp. may have been so keen to acquire the smaller company is due to the latter's products being used to combat hospital acquired infections, which have become a pressing issue in the healthcare community worldwide. Expected to close in the second quarter of 2016, the transaction has caused Stryker's stock to gain 3.7% over the course of the last three months, despite the S&P 500 as a whole losing 6.7%. The deal will include a tax benefit of over $500 million, and is expected to add to Stryker Corp.'s cash flow for approximately 15 years.

Both Abbot and Stryker Corp. are based in the United States and make the majority of their sales in their home country. However, these purchases demonstrate that both companies are attempting to consolidate more materials and specialized services under their respective names, and in so doing attract a larger consumer population. China, India, and Brazil, among others, are the prime emerging markets for healthcare products and technology; it would therefore be in both of these company's interests to expand their consumer bases not just at home, but abroad as well. Alere and Sage Products LLC may very well help them in this endeavor.