Merck’s Global Health Innovation Fund (GHIF) has taken a controlling interest in digital physician marketing firm Physicians Interactive, MM&M has learned. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The takeover of Marlborough, MA-based Physician’s Interactive, which provides online and mobile clinical tools and marketing to doctors like e-sampling and interactive education programs, follows a $17-million stake taken by GHIF in January 2012.

By expanding its stake in PI, Merck is deepening its relationship with a well-established provider of non-personal promotion to HCPs, a commodity in this era when drug makers are fielding much slimmer sales forces.

“PI offers low-cost, multi-channel, integrated marketing solutions and applications, generated from its online platform of user-generated, proprietary and public data, to enable medical professionals to deliver better patient care,” said Merck in a statement. “These programs can be used to supplement currently promoted products as well as non-promoted and orphaned products that still have value to physicians and patients.”

“PI will operate independently and maintain its own governance, policies and corporate IT infrastructure to ensure the security of its customers’ data and intellectual property,” Merck added.

The previous majority owner of PI was private equity firm Perseus Capital.