The company has been grappling with lawsuits alleging some of its talcum powder products caused cancer.
But the Reuters report cites documents and other evidence that indicate company executives, managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers knew about the problem and failed to disclose it to regulators or the public.
Reuters said it examined documents, including depositions and trial testimony, that show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J's raw talc and finished baby powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, a human carcinogen.
The company said that it has fully cooperated with the Food & Drug Administration and other global regulators over decades, and used the "most advanced testing methods available" to ensure that its cosmetic talc is asbestos-free.
On July 19, 2002, shares of Johnson & Johnson tumbled 16 percent as federal regulators investigated a former employee's allegations of false record-keeping at a plant that made an anemia drug linked to serious side effects.
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