US President Barack Obama has ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remedy the problem of drug shortages in the country.

Over the past year, the majority of hospitals in the US have been forced to delay life-saving treatments due to the shortages, which tend to affect cancer drugs and anaesthetics.

So far, at least 15 deaths have been blamed on the lack of medicines.

Obama signed the executive order on Monday instructing the FDA to take action to broaden its reporting of potential drug shortages, accelerate reviews of applications to change production of drugs facing potential shortages and give the Justice Department more information about possible instances of collusion or price gouging.

However, the administration said the steps won’t solve the problem as shortages have tripled in recent years and show no signs of slowing, reports the Associated Press.

Around 178 shortages reported last year, and shortages of injectable drugs are becoming increasingly apparent, according to the FDA.

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The FDA won’t "be able to prevent all future shortages," said Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "But we can make a very real and meaningful difference by expanding our network of early warnings."