President Barack Obama wants the 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 says the president plans to sign an executive order Monday directing the FDA to take action. The order will be the latest in the president's campaign to move on initiatives that do not require congressional approval.

Last year, the FDA reported 178 drug shortages. The agency has said it has continued to see an increase in shortages this year, particularly with cancer drugs, anesthetics, drugs used in emergency medicine, and electrolytes needed for intravenous feeding.