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.