What happened

Shares of Pacira Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PCRX) are up by over 10% this morning on heavy volume for the stock. What's behind this double-digit move higher?

Pacira's stock is getting a lift from H.C. Wainwright & Co.'s revised price target of $48 per share, which implies a healthy 32% upside relative to yesterday's closing price. As of 11:30 a.m. EDT, the drugmaker's shares are up 9.8%. 

A person in a suit drawing an upward-trending curve with the word "sales" displayed above the curve.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Pacira's stock was down more than 20% year to date prior to today's move higher, due to the potential for competition from Heron Therapeutics' (NASDAQ:HRTX) experimental pain medication HTX-011. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration granted Heron's drug Breakthrough Therapy designation, which should expedite HTX-011's upcoming New Drug Application. Pacira's flagship pain medication, Exparel, could thus face serious competition for market share in about a year's time. 

Now what

Wall Street is clearly divided over the impact HTX-011 will have on Exparel's future. The acute-pain market is arguably large enough to support multiple drugs comfortably, but HTX-011's impressive clinical trial results suggest that it could eventually become the medication of choice.

Some analysts expect Exparel sales to flatline next year -- presumably because of HTX-011's entrance into the market. The consensus analyst forecast, by contrast, has Exparel sales still growing by a healthy 15% in 2019. The folks over at H.C. Wainwright are apparently in the bull camp in this debate. 

George Budwell owns shares of Heron Therapeutics. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.