Acting once again without Congress, President Obama on Monday was directing the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages that administration officials say have placed patients at risk and led to price gouging.

The president signed an executive order — his fifth in a week — instructing the FDA to take action absent congressional approval.

The executive action is part of an overarching push by the White House to portray Obama, who is facing re-election, as an effective counterpoint to congressional Republicans blocking his jobs legislation. Last week, he issued an executive order to help homeowners refinance at lower mortgage rates and to allow college graduates to simplify and lower their student loan payments.

On Friday he directed government agencies to shorten the time it takes for federal research to turn into commercial products in the marketplace.