Reuters published a lengthy enquiry into one of the company's most celebrated products, that claimed as early as 1971, the New Jersey-based multinational was aware that small amounts of asbestos were present in the talc.
J&J vice president Ernie Knewitz told Reuters that plaintiffs' attorneys are "out for personal financial gain" and are "distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion in the courtroom and in the media".
Meanwhile, shares in Johnson & Johnson fell more than six percent on Friday, on track to post their biggest percentage drop in more than a decade following the Reuters report. Thousands more cases against the company are still pending.
Earlier this year, the company was ordered to pay billions to 22 women who alleged that the company's products containing talc also contained asbestos and caused their cancer.
The Reuters report noted that most internal J&J asbestos tests did not find asbestos, but said that while the company's testing methods had improved over time, they "have always had limitations that allow trace contaminants to go undetected" and that only a "tiny fraction" of the company's talc is ever tested.
The news agency said it showed the company, established in 1886, know of the positive tests, and that senior executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers anxious about how to address the problem, while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.
The documents included memos and reports from within the company that were shared with the lawyers representing the plaintiffs who claimed that the powder caused cancer, according to Reuters.
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But a 2017 verdict in California, as well as other verdicts in Missouri, have been overturned on appeal, while challenges to another five verdicts are pending.
"The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory".
"Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory", the company said in a statement.
While, over the past two decades, some legal challenges claiming that Johnson & Johnson products were tainted with asbestos and caused cancer have been unsuccessful, three recent developments seem to signal a shift. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used J&J talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant.
Even when the FDA was weighing limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products in 1976, J&J assured the regulatory body that none had been detected "in any sample" between December 1972 and October 1973.
But assertions that the talc contained asbestos - and the science showing it causes mesothelioma and is also associated with ovarian and other cancers - has had mixed success in court.