Pharmaceutical firm Eisai said on Monday that it and U.S. firm Biogen applied to the health ministry for approval of an Alzheimer's drug that could become the first available in Japan that both treats the disease's cause and slows the progression of symptoms.

The two companies hope to gain approval by the end of the year following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision earlier in the month to grant it fast-track approval.

Eisai said it had applied with the European Medicines Agency on Jan. 9 for approval to sell the medicine in Europe. The firm also submitted the drug data to China's National Medical Products Administration in December.