WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is directing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages, an escalating problem that has placed patients at risk and raised the possibility of price gouging.
 
A White House official said the president planned to sign an executive order Monday instructing the FDA to take action. The order would be the latest in the president's campaign to move on initiatives that do not require congressional approval.
  
President Obama also will announce his support for House and Senate legislation that would require drug makers to notify the FDA six months ahead of a potential shortage, the official said. Under current regulations, drug manufactures are only required to notify the FDA if medically necessary drugs are being discontinued. Notification of shortages is strictly voluntary.
 
The White House official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the order had not been officially announced.