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President Barack Obama gestures in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 31, where he signed an executive order directing the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unprecedented drug shortages are threatening the lives of cancer patients and other seriously ill people, and the Obama administration’s plan to tackle them is but a small step toward solving a complex problem.

President Barack Obama ordered the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to take new steps to send out early warnings about looming shortages and try to avert them.

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